Although over 82% of Americans regularly use social media, according to the Statista’s Research Department, many aren’t aware of the kinds of scams that can exist on these platforms.
Most of us are already familiar with the typical scam methods that reach us through telephone calls or email. But now, in this era of social media, scammers are just as likely to use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to steal unsuspecting victims’ personal information or money.
Social media scams are an important topic of discussion for us at Genie. At Genie, it's our goal to fight for online safety by bringing awareness to the many kinds of fraud and scams out there and help start the public discussion on these difficult topics.
6 Common Types of Social Media Scams:
The Phishing Scam: Scammers will send an email impersonating a social media platform and asking insidiously to “verify” their account details. Once they click on the link to verify they will be taken to a website that resembles the social media’s website. After the target enters their information, their account and password will be compromised.
The Deal or Coupon Scam: Scammers execute this coupon scam by distributing advertisements featuring too-good-to-be-true deals on hot items. The real goal is to charge consumers’ credit cards for phony goods or products that will never arrive, or to collect personal information for identity theft.
The Genealogy Scam: This capitalizes on the current popularity of ancestry research. Scammers set up a legitimate-looking website and social media account – often mimicking the name of an authentic genealogy site by altering a character or two of the name. Victims are duped into providing their credit card information, Social Security numbers and other personal information to the identity thieves.
The Online Dating and Romance Scam: Scammers will target individuals through a dating website or on a regular social media platform to build a fake relationship. Once the scammer gains the trust of their target they will create a false story that usually involves urgently needing money. They will ask for the money from their target usually by wire or direct bank transfer. After the target sends the money, they will never hear back from this person again.
The Giveaway Scam: a post is written about a giveaway with substantial prizes on a social media platform. The post will usually have a link to enter the giveaway. This link forwards targets to a website where they are prompted to answer personal questions to enter the giveaway - questions link your full name, telephone number, address, bank account information, and social security number.
The Work-from-Home/Job Scam: Usually, an ad will be published either online via social media or in print with claims of new work-from-home opportunities. The job offer will promise high pay and will not require any experience or skills. Usually, the job will seem too good to be true, like offering incredible perks and extremely high salary for little work. In addition, they may request you pay an upfront fee for training or any other materials the job may require. This is a very clear sign of a work-from-home scam as, generally speaking, employers are the ones who are supposed to pay employees, and not the other way around. A common sign of this scam is if you try to research and can’t find very much information about the company. The company should have an official website, as well as social media pages. If there is no online presence, you can see it as a warning sign.
You can read more about Work-from-home Job Scams and how to avoid them in our full blogpost here: (https://www.lifesgenie.com/post/the-rise-of-work-from-home)
Genie’s Top 10 Tips to Preventing Social Media Scams:
Never click on links or attachments on social media messages or posts that seem suspicious or have “too-good-to-be-true” offers.
Create strong social media passwords. A strong password consists of a minimum of seven characters with a mix of both upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. Remember to never give your password to anyone you do not know personally or trust.
Never post personal information on social media that scammers may be able to use to steal your identity. This includes information like your Social Security number (even the last four digits), city of birth, birthdate, address, personal phone number, or account information.
Verify that you are in contact with the correct online entity and using its official website, as many scammers create look-alike websites to try to trick users into giving their information or money away. A common way scammers do this is by changing the URL minimally (ikeas.com instead of ikea.com). Look for any slight changes in URL before using a website!
If possible, Avoid posting a front-facing picture on social media sites. Some scammers copy images and use them to steal your identity.
Make your social media accounts private. In the privacy options of your social media accounts you can restrict who can see your personal information and photos, so they can only be viewed by the people you specifically authorize.
Delete and block users who send you unsolicited messages that request personal or account information. You can also report these users to the social media platform so they will be barred from using the platform in the future.
Contact companies only through trusted channels. If you are concerned about an email or other message you received, call the company immediately at its publicly-listed phone number. Do not call a phone number listed in a message you are suspicious of.
Verify the person you are dealing with is who they claim to be, and not an imposter. Contact a friend or family member who could confirm the person’s story, or try contacting the real person at a phone number you know is correct.
Don’t be rushed into taking any action. Especially when the action involves sending money immediately or secretly. Don’t send money by wire transfer, overnight delivery, or reloadable cards unless you are absolutely certain that you are sending money to a real friend or family member.
Taking Action - If you are a victim of a social media scam, take the following steps:
Stop all contact with the scam artist and block his or her phone numbers, instant messages, and email addresses.
Keep copies of all communications.
Report the matter to the social media website.
Report the matter to your local police department.
Report the matter to the Federal Trade Commission as follows: Federal Trade Commission - Phone: (877) 382-4357, Website: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov
Share your story with others. The more we talk about our experience with scams or fraud the more we can protect others from falling victim - you can also share your story with Genie community here: https://lifesgenie.com/report-a-scam