Beware of These 5 Social Media Scams That Could Target You Next
With the vast majority of us on social media, we’re just a quick scroll away from potential scammers.
However, these con artists aren’t as obvious as they once were. They’re getting craftier, disguising their intentions by leveraging familiar brand logos, mimicking terms and conditions, and creating deceiving website links to reel you in.
Often, these tricksters will tempt you with clickable links. But be careful: one click can not only hand over your personal details to unknown parties but can also share the scam with your loved ones, says consumer advocate group, Which? This shared post might be mistaken by your friends and family as a genuine endorsement from you, increasing their chances of getting duped.
So, how can you outsmart these digital tricksters? Here are five tips to identify scams and stay one step ahead.
Avoid These 5 Social Media Scams That Could Target You
1. Too Good to be True
Financial vulnerabilities can make anyone an easy target for scam artists. These sly individuals capitalize on one’s urge to find quick fixes to pressing issues.
Often, they’ll dangle tempting offers that seem almost too good to pass up. Think deeply discounted products or investments boasting ‘surefire’ high returns.
But how can you spot these deceptions? Which? suggests a simple first step: Google it. If a reputable company is genuinely advertising a fantastic deal on social media, it’s likely they’d also flaunt it on their official website.
Nicola Harding from the scam awareness group, We Fight Fraud, reaffirms this approach applies to a variety of scams. Dr. Harding, who also teaches criminology at Lancaster University, offers a rule of thumb: “Whether you’re eyeing that chic dress or the latest gaming console on social media, remember that great deals seldom come easily. If an offer seems unrealistically attractive, it’s probably not legit.
2. You are Sent a Link
Keep an eye out for suspicious links and give them a once-over before giving them a click.
Clicking on sketchy links can be more dangerous than you think. They might contain nasty malware that lets fraudsters snatch your Facebook login credentials and other personal info.
What’s more, after tapping on such a link, you might find yourself locked out of your own account. The scammer might then take control and send the same scammy message to all your friends. Sneaky, right?
Dr. Harding points out that often, you won’t even realize you’ve clicked on a sham link. “If you get an email from Facebook about a login from an unfamiliar address, resist the urge to click any links inside,” she advises.
Dr. Harding has some straight-to-the-point advice: “If you’re ever in doubt, skip the email link and head directly to the app to check your security settings.”
You see, here’s the sneaky bit: if you do click a dodgy link from an email, it might direct you to a site that’s the spitting image of Facebook’s login page. You might then be prompted to enter your credentials. And while it’ll look legit and eventually lead you to the actual Facebook homepage, in that split second, the scammers would have snagged your login details.
And it doesn’t stop at Facebook. Armed with your details from there, like emails, phone numbers, and birth dates, they could potentially bust into your other accounts. Dr. Harding emphasizes the gravity of this, “They could even use your data to take out credit in your name, change your address with the DVLA, or even apply for a driving license to commit identity fraud. And, if your account has any financial ties, there’s the risk of them draining your funds.”
So, a word of wisdom? Be super wary of links in messages that just don’t feel right. Sometimes, these tricky websites use domain names that resemble legit brands just to throw you off.
A common tip is to look for a padlock icon next to a website’s URL, signaling that it’s encrypted. This means your activities on that site, like browsing or payments, should be secure. But, here’s a curveball: some of these padlocks can be faked or bought. So, even if you see one, it doesn’t give the all-clear. As Which? rightly flags, always be on your toes and double-check.
3. The Brand Looks Fake
Scammers have upped their game, often posing as legit businesses. But if you’re sharp-eyed, you might spot some branding slip-ups. Is the logo a bit off? Does the post just not seem to have that professional touch you’d expect from a big company?
If you stumble across a brand that doesn’t ring a bell, do a little detective work. Pop over to their profile page, as Which? suggests. Does everything seem polished and on-point, or does it have a thrown-together-at-the-last-minute vibe? Don’t forget to scroll through some reviews too – they’re like a goldmine for sussing out the real deal from the fakes.
4. Post Keeps Popping Up
Seeing the same post pop up repeatedly from different friends? That might raise an eyebrow.
Sometimes, your pals might unknowingly share a shady link or ad. So, if something feels off, shoot them a private message. Ask if they really meant to share that post or if they’ve maybe been duped.
Always go with your gut. It’s way better to skip a tempting deal than to unknowingly hand over your personal info to some scammer.
And if you’re thinking of buying something from someone online, consider this: Do you know them outside of the digital world? If you do, maybe give them a ring to double-check it’s genuinely their post. If they’re strangers? Maybe suggest a face-to-face cash handover. Better safe than sorry!
5. Bank Transfer Request
Thinking about paying for an online purchase via bank transfer? Hold up! Unless you personally know the seller, it might not be the best move.
Here’s the deal: If you buy something with a credit or debit card and it ends up being a dud or doesn’t even show up, you have a fighting chance to get your money back. But with bank transfers? Not so much. Retrieving that cash can be a real uphill battle. So, play it safe!