5 Social Media Scams And How To Spot Them

Security 27 July 2021
5 Social Media Scams And How To Spot Them

In just a few short years social media has inexplicably changed the way we live our lives. The way we interact, communicate, consumer news and do business is more different now than at any time in modern history. To say that people are addicted to social media is a little extreme, but the figures speak for themselves. In the UK alone 53 million people consider themselves active social media users - that’s over 77% of the entire population.

As we spend ever more time online, so do cyber criminals. The hyperactive and irrational nature of social media provides a rich hunting ground for fraudsters, scammers and con artists.

Research by Which? suggests that 3.8m social media users have been scammed by an ad on social media and 42% of users cannot tell whether an ad is fake. Findings by Action Fraud and the National Fraud Investigation show that £63m was lost to social media based investment fraud and that SMEs, sole traders and charities lost £3.8m to online scams in 2020 respectively.

Staying safe on social media isn’t easy but we’ve got your back. Sit back, relax and let Safenetpay walk you through the most common social media scams and the steps you can take to avoid them.

Cash grabs

Online donations through sites such as Crowdfunder, GoFundMe, JustGiving et al make supporting charitable causes easier than ever before.

Being the caring person you are, you donate some money to a seemingly worthy cause on Facebook and go about your day. Hundreds, even thousands of people do the same and before too long a tidy sum has been raised - then the funding page disappears. You can guess what happens next…

Always do your research and only ever donate through official, recognised and verified platforms. If someone asks you to make a direct donation to a bank account, put you wallet away.

Hidden Charges

“What type of personality are you? Find out in 5 questions”. We’ve all seen those annoying adverts that try to lure us in by playing on our natural curiosity. We also always say to ourselves ‘lol, who would actually fall for clickbait’ - well, you’d be surprised

Before you know it you’ve entered in your email address & mobile phone number unknowingly subscribed to a platform that charges you £5 a week for ‘something’. With one-click passwords and stored detail add-ons, falling for bait-and-switch scams is easier than ever before.

Chain letters

Chain letters are the oak-aged vintages of the internet age and have been lurking in the shadows since the dawn of digital communication. Like a monster in a low budget b-movie - they just keep coming back.

A chain letter is a digital message designed to convince the recipient to forward them onto as many people as possible. Common techniques used in chain letters are emotional manipulation, humour, ‘get-rich-quick schemes’ or superstition. While some may be nothing more than an innocent joke by the sender, some may contain concealed hazards - such as malware/spyware - which pose a threat to your personal or professional information.

Our digital lives are burdened with seemingly endless notifications, which can make it difficult to accurately filter out the nonsense. Use your common sense and break the chain.

Phishing requests

Whether it be the excitement of a new notification or that we simply must look at that dog on a skateboard - our fingers now move faster than we can think. Why would a Facebook link - sent via Facebook Messenger - ask you to sign into Facebook to view a Facebook post? A cybercriminal is probably copying your username and password and now has complete control of your account.

Hidden URLS

URLs (or Uniform Resource Locators to their friends) are absolutely everywhere online - it’s impossible to escape them. How many times a day do we click on a random URL and have no idea what’s on the other side? A winner of The Millennium Prize wouldn’t have the maths skills to work that one out.

Things have moved on from the humble Rickroll but we still fall for it hook, line and sinker. Through the use of URL shortening tools, embedded linking and impersonation fraud, creating a fraudulent link has never been easier for cybercriminals.

Always remember to approach any link with caution: never give away any personal details; never grant ‘access’ to someone you don’t know and always open links in a recognised internet browser.

How to avoid being a victim of a social media scam

Keep your information safe.

Whilst social networking is all about building relationships, social media platforms are littered with false identities that are used to collect data. It's usually a good idea not to trust everything that comes your way on social media, or to believe stuff from people you already know. Don't add contacts you don't know or who look to be fraudulent, and don't give out personal information to strangers.

Limit what you share online

Personal data is the new oil. Our bank account details, mobile phone numbers, social media passwords and literally any other private information about ourselves is extremely valuable. In days gone by, this kind of personal information would be utilized to commit identity theft for ‘personal’ criminal gain. In today’s dark web world however, knowledge is power and it’s a sellers market.

Deny access requests

When cybercriminals get access to an account or obtain sufficient data, they frequently act as a coworker or acquaintance. Why would a ‘friend’ or ‘colleague’ want or need access to your personal social media accounts; surely they have their own? Exactly… Unless it is a shared account for business use - never give anyone the keys.

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