Safety Watch: How to Recognize Social Media Scams

Social media is a great way to unwind, catch up on the latest trends and news, and connect with friends and followers. However, fraudsters have found ways to infiltrate social media sites to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. Jackie MacKnight of the Connecticut Better Business Bureau advises social media users to watch out for the following scams when scrolling through your favorite feeds:
 
Like-Farming. This scam involves the creation of emotionally driven posts—think sick children, lost animals, political ire—designed to generate massive amounts of likes and shares. According to MacKnight, some of these posts even claim that Facebook will donate money for every comment or share. As people like and share the post, its audience increases, at which point the scammer will edit the post to include a malicious component, such as a link to a website that downloads malware to your machine, or they may resell the page on the black market to buyers who will use it to spam followers or harvest the information Facebook provides.

Blackmail. While one of the best parts about social media is the ease of sharing photos, unfortunately, it’s extremely easy for these photos to be stolen and used for nefarious purposes, including blackmail. The surefire way to avoid this is to never share photos of yourself in compromising positions. Make sure your privacy settings are set so that your friends and followers can’t share such photos without your approval, as well.

Phishing. Phishing scams have also made their way to social media, so steer clear of anyone claiming to be from your bank, credit card company, utility company or anyone else you do business with. The rule of thumb when it comes to identifying a phishing scam? These institutions will never ask for personal information like your credit card number, Social Security Number, passwords, etc., online. Inform them that you will call them directly on the number you have for them to verify the call before providing any information.

Generally speaking, to steer clear of such scams and stay safe on social media, MacKnight recommends following some common sense safety measures, such as avoiding offers that sound too good to be true, only liking posts and articles that are legitimate, and being extremely cautious when it comes to sharing personal information. Never provide your address, phone number, birth date, etc., to a person or company you don’t know or trust.

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