You may be accustomed to spending more time on social networking sites, checking Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook several times daily. But you risk encountering potential social media scams as you pass the hours.
Con artists have been using social platforms to defraud victims, increasing identity theft risk. They can trick you into submitting your financial or personal data and then use it to access your bank accounts, steal your money, or take out loans as you.
Others might use social sites to trick you into sending cash or gift cards with the promise that you’ve won a raffle or contest and need funds to collect your winnings. But the old-fashioned ones will study your posts to determine where you live and whether you’re home. You might return from a weekend road trip only to find that thugs have ransacked your space.
Fortunately, you can be safe from all these threats by knowing the most common social media scams and how to beat them.
An Overview of the Most Common Social Media Scams
Cybercriminals use different methods to infiltrate social media accounts. The most common scams include:
Criminals sometimes use shortened URLs to hide the full webpage location. This trick is more predominant on Twitter.
While such links could innocently direct you to the right website, there’s always the risk of being diverted to a site with malware.
So be wary of what you click on. Verify the post and confirm whether it’s typical from the user posting it, then ensure that you have real-time protection against viruses and spyware.
Fake news is all over. Some of these scams impersonate Facebook and spread rapidly.
Such phony information may notify you of a new pricing structure comprising different memberships. Moreover, you may be promised a payment exemption if you share the news within a specific timeline.
Fake news spreads fast because new users usually believe they’re doing their friends a favor by informing them. However, this could be a phishing attack trying to trick them into sharing their data.
Cybercriminals also use a common trick where they invite social media users to join a phony group with the promise of incentives. You’ll be required to provide your financial information or passwords or grant authorization to your account.
This technique is relatively old, and not many would fall victim, but it’s surprisingly effective. It’s often done to gather a group of associates or followers to be exploited in the future. Victims are always susceptible to credit card or bank account fraud.
Card Cracking Scams
Criminals understand that everyone wants easy money, and they’ve devised cunning ways to steal from unsuspecting targets.
Card cracking scams use this tactic. Instead of making a cheque deposit, they may request you provide a bank account, debit card information, or a PIN.
Once you’ve submitted your access authorization, the criminal may clear your balance via wire transfer. They can also transfer stolen funds or conceal illegal transactions using your account details.
Criminals are also increasingly targeting social networking sites using fake applications. These apps can trick you into providing private information or granting authorization to them.
Threat actors may also use the apps to steal passwords and card information or access mobile devices. You may not notice it because the apps are generally smaller, subtly requesting permission to access your files or perform actions.
Charitable Cause Scam
Finally, criminals can use trending news or emergencies to request donations from unsuspecting social media users. The information may come directly on a particular platform, appearing as an authentic-looking or crowdfunding site. But in the long run, gullible victims innocently donate, yet the funds never reach those who need them.
Common on Facebook, this threat appears as a ubiquitous Like button that users can easily abuse. When it’s on your page, and another user visits the site and hits the button, their activity stream and your page will link automatically.
Afterward, another possible victim will receive a personalized button indicating the number of friends who’ve liked the page. Users unknowingly endorse specific products in a threat that spreads through automatically generated shares and likes.
With this social media scam, criminals may attach user interface elements like an undetectable button right beside a seemingly safe webpage button.
They might conceal functions like the like button beneath an invisible button to prompt you to share something unknowingly. This social media scam can generate viral marketing or propagate malware.
How to Stay Safe from Social Media Scams
While social networking sites have undeniable risks, they provide users with vast social interaction opportunities. So the fact that you don’t intend to give up on them is understandable. This, however, means you must do everything to safeguard your data.
Here are the sensible precautions to take as you get the most from social media:
Always Protect Your Data
Consider everything you share online and avoid sharing any information that could enable impersonation. It’s also helpful to limit access to your profile and content.
Verify Each Request
Criminals usually approach victims as familiar individuals before convincing them to share data, open a link, or send cash. So whenever you receive such a request, call the person to hear from them.
Strangers Aren’t Your Friends
Be cautious whenever someone requests information from you, especially your personal details. Always ensure they’re genuine and only provide information for the right reason.
Some Offers Are Too Good to Be True
Malicious actors use goodies like discounts and gift cards to social media users as rewards for simple tasks. So think twice about any offer that’s too good to be true.
Check for Impersonation Accounts
Cases of criminals using fake accounts are common. So first, verify the person’s true identity before accepting a request to connect with an account.
Ignore Any Offers for Fake Movies or Live Streams
Trying out that massively advertised EPL livestream link is tempting, but most such posts can direct you to malware-distributing websites. Stay safe by always visiting specific event pages.
Get Rid of Your Old Profiles
Monitor your digital footprint by removing any social media accounts you don’t use. If you created a profile six years ago, some of your personal information could be available to fraudsters.
Be Cautious with Public Wi-Fi
Criminals sometimes impersonate genuine networks or even hack a working one. So don’t use apps like mobile banking, which contain your sensitive information, when connecting to public networks on the go.
These tips can serve as protective measures. But how do you redeem yourself after falling victim? Read on the next section for apt guidance.
Steps to Take After a Social Media Account Hack
Cursing, screaming, or panicking are all reasonable responses. But here are better recovery methods to help you achieve long-term recovery:
- Change passwords – Once you realize someone has hacked your account, begin by changing your password. This includes access codes to other platforms that criminals can access via the compromised site.
- Monitor your bank account – It also helps to notify your financial institution if criminals hack your account. This prevents them from using any details on your social media page to access your mobile banking apps.
- Contact an IT expert – A reliable IT expert experienced in cybersecurity issues can help you recover your account and create comprehensive strategies to protect it against future threats.
- Report – If cybercriminals have misused your information, ensure you report it to the relevant authorities.
Many people and companies have relied on social media pages to stay connected with the world, follow the news, or shop. But the immense popularity of these platforms significantly increases the risk of fraud.
Knowing the most common scams and how to avoid them can keep you ahead of cyber criminals. Fortunately, the above tips will guide you aptly.