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Social Media Scams

Social media is a great platform for sharing information, searching topics and products and for connecting with people. However, it also provides criminals with an opportunity to blend in with the crowd and entice unsuspecting individuals to interact with them with the ultimate goal of stealing their personal, financial or security information.

Below are some of the common forms that social media scams can take.

  • Miracle Products – Beware miracle beauty or health products that offer a free trial but involve giving your credit or debit card details up front. If the product is genuine (which frequently it is not), you are often tied unknowingly into a fixed period contract. Read the terms and conditions carefully.
  • Job/Work from Home Scams – Some of these opportunities involve payment up front for training, products etc. so always independently check out the credentials of any company offering you a job or work from home opportunity. Never give your account or card details until you are confident this is a legitimate offer.
  • Investment Scams – Be cautious of any opportunity that offers a quick way to make money. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Seek independent professional advice before signing up to any online investment opportunity.
  • Fake Comments on Popular Posts – Fraudsters post fake comments on popular posts that include interesting looking links which in fact direct you to phishing websites.
  • Fake Friend Requests – Only accept friend requests from people you know or have reason to want to connect with. Criminals often use fake friend requests to gather you and your friends’ data.
  • Help, I’m in Trouble Messages – Beware of posts or emails from genuine friends saying they are in trouble and need you to send money. It is very likely that their social media or email accounts have been hacked.
  • Romance Scams – Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact. These scams are also known as ‘catfishing’ or “sweetheart scams”. Fake online profiles and or persona are designed to lure you in and, after “wooing you”, they will find some compelling reason to ask for money, gifts or your card details. They may use a fictional name or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad.
  • Twishing – A a combination of the words Twitter and phishing, twishing is a form of phishing in which a message is sent to you on Twitter in an attempt to obtain your personal or security information by directing you to a bogus website.
  • Remember everything you post is available for all to see, it is not what you out on one form of social media but across all platforms allowing a fraudster to build up your profile and potentially steal your identity.

Key Advice

  1. Use appropriate privacy settings on your social media profiles – remember your information is valuable to a fraudster and if they can access your social media profiles they may be able to build up a lot of information on you.
  2. Do not friend or link with someone on social media unless you know them or have a reason to connect with them.
  3. Don’t give out personal information in response to a social media posting. For example by taking quizzes or signing up for offers that ask for your personal details.
  4. Be mindful of information you give away about yourself on any social media platforms.
  5. If a link(s) appears on your social media page or wall and you don’t recognise or want anything to do with, delete it immediately.
  6. Never give your card details or make a payment on the basis of an offer received through social media unless you have independently verified that it is legitimate.
  7. Change your password regularly and choose passwords that are not easily guessed and that have a mixture of lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numerals and special characters.
  8. If you get a request from a friend that seems unusual, contact them by phone or another method to verify it is from them. Examples are a request for money or a new friend request when you were already connected to that friend.
  9. Pay attention to your own instincts. All the clichés apply. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.