We have become so used to social media platforms and their terms and conditions constantly changing that we don’t even try to keep up with what’s happening.
It’s much easier for most people to go with the flow and use social media to connect and have fun.
This attitude can lead to many social media scammers and fraudsters.
Nearly $117 million was stolen from scams that began on social media.
This was almost half the amount of 2019, and it is expected to keep growing.
It is easy to read about scams on social media – and other scams in general – and believe you would not fall for such a scheme.
The sheer amount of money they lose each year is proof that we need to be more cautious about how we interact on social media platforms and with strangers who use them.
There are many similarities between the social media scams that we see and how you can avoid them.
They either exploit our emotions or general negligence on the internet.
Sometimes, they do both. This awareness can help you avoid being scammed on social networks.
Scams on social media
Quizzes, third-party apps
Scams involving social media are pretty common in the world of scams.
They can either launch a separate app to access your personal information, or you will be asked questions about common login security questions to hack your accounts.
In a quiz, you may not be asked for your street address, high school mascot, or first pet’s name.
They are trying to hack into your accounts.
They are probably trying to find out which 2000s rom-com you are.
Launching a separate app is a good idea.
Scammers are aware that users rarely check the terms before agreeing to them.
Is this you?
This scam involves a stranger messaging you and asking if you are in a photo or video they found.
The message also includes a link at the end.
They will send you to a mirror website that looks similar to Facebook and prompt you to log in again.
Then they will steal your login credentials. It works by preying on our curiosity and anxieties.
Is it ok to circulate a picture of me? Does the photo make me look terrible? How is it possible for a stranger to see me in the photograph?
Although it’s tempting to succumb to this curiosity, a direct message sent by a stranger to you can be a red flag.
Engage only with people you know, whether they respond or follow a link.
Hidden charges and recurring fees
Hidden Charge scams This quiz will entertain you with humor and ask you for your number so that you can receive the results.
Now that you’ve wasted your time enter your number to view the results.
While they will send you the results, you have likely unwittingly agreed to an additional monthly charge on your cell phone bill.
It might not be a quiz. You can find anything that will grab your attention enough to get your number.
These scams work because you are already used to receiving a monthly charge from your mobile phone provider.
It often takes people a while to realize that they have fallen for a scam.
Romance scams, emotional manipulation
A romance scam occurs when someone convinces people to have an online relationship to steal your money.
These scammers used to only target people using dating apps, but they are now targeting more people via popular social media platforms.
Be cautious if a stranger’s profile appears too perfect.
It would help if you were wary of their romantic gestures or feelings.
They may also have a job they can’t verify, live far from you, or are unavailable to video chat.
These are not indicators that someone is pursuing less noble goals.
These are red flags if someone, after getting to know you better and building an emotional connection, says they need money to pay off debts, medical expenses, or travel (often to visit you).
This sounds like an obvious scam that many people would not fall for.
However, in 2020, reported losses due to romance scams totaled $304 million.
Scammers profit from this human need for connection. It’s easy to believe that you won’t fall for it, but you will when you do.
Check out who has viewed your profile to see scams
Scammers that claim to show who is viewing your profile are not new.
However, they have been around since the inception of Facebook.
These scams don’t seem to stop working because they exploit our egoic tendencies and our natural curiosity.
We all want that information, even though the social media companies don’t seem to have any indications that they will.
These offers typically take you to a third-party app, which you will need to authorize before seeing who has supposedly been looking at your profile.
They can also hack into your account and steal your personal information.
We all want to know if our ex is still pining for us. But please, don’t fall for this kind of scam.
Hidden URLs and the dangers of shortened links
Short URLs are standard for apps such as Twitter.
However, these can also be dangerous. You can’t see the entire URL, so you don’t know where it will take you.
You could be taken to a website that attempts to hack your computer and install malware.
It’s challenging to avoid shortened URLs online because they are so common. It’s best to be cautious.
To ensure that you don’t click on any URLs you suspect are fraudulent or not legitimate, copy the URL into ExpansionURL.
How to avoid social media frauds
Scammers are constantly innovating, and they find new ways to trick people.
The above list doesn’t include all the scams that you need to be aware of on social media.
Many social media scams use the same tactics or concepts.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe.
Your terms and conditions should be a bit more specific
Social media scams often involve people permitting without realizing it.
Many scams involve you opening a third-party application and giving consent for them to access your personal information and bill you for charges.
If you don’t feel like reading the terms and conditions is something you want to do, you might be more careful about which apps you accept and why. Is it worth taking the risk?
Your information should be kept private
It doesn’t matter if this is your phone number, credit card information, or login credentials for social media accounts. It is essential to be aware of why you are entering this information.
Although we’ve grown numb to sharing such information, it’s precisely why scams like these – which we don’t think we’d be stupid enough to believe – can work.
If you are asked to provide personal information, verify that the source is legitimate. It’s best to be safe than sorry if it’s for something so pointless as a quiz answer.
Pay attention to who you are interacting with online
We have also grown accustomed to being followed by people we don’t know.
Although this is not usually suspicious, it is good to ask why strangers are trying to message you directly.
It will begin innocently at first, as it always does.
However, if you feel something is off about your interactions with other users, it most likely is.
Be especially alert if the stranger demands some action. It could be a scam if a stranger asks for immediate action on your part.
It doesn’t matter if the stranger wants a direct action, a wire transfer, or a link.
Although asking for money online can feel like a scam, many scams involve emotional manipulation.
Being cautious about interacting with strangers online can help you avoid scammers before they start.
Make social media enjoyable and keep your information secure
This article shares two common themes.
This first theme is about people believing they are not foolish enough to fall for social media scams.
The second involves us becoming so enmeshed with online platforms and their behaviors that we seldom pause to question them.
Scammers and hackers heavily rely upon these factors to gain your personal information and money.
Many local agencies can help you report and stop these scams, depending on where your home is.
Check with your local consumer protection office to find out what scams have been reported on social media and how to report scams if you’ve been victimized.