Social media has overtaken both the professional and personal aspects of online communication and connection, and while it might provide a considerable boon for both, it increases the odds of being contacted by scams and other malicious attempts. The best way to make sure you don’t fall prey to a scam is to remain vigilant. Today we’ll discuss the various scams that are created for use with social media.
Many of these might not seem to apply to a business’ social media presence, but we assure you that it’s worth considering. Furthermore, considering how easy it is to blend the two together, we urge you to limit how closely linked your personal and professional social media accounts are, as a breach on either end could put the other one in danger.
“See PHOTOS of the celebrity that secretly lives in your area!” “You’d never believe who DWAYNE JOHNSON spends his free time with!” “You’ll be SHOCKED to learn which beloved ‘90s sitcom cast formed a blood cult!”
Chances are you’ve seen some Facebook ads like those above or have seen someone you know sharing them on their news feed. People look at the lives of celebrities and try to live vicariously through their experiences, and it often leads them to falling prey to scams by downloading malware. Avoiding these scams is relatively simple, as long as you can avoid clicking on gossipy headlines. Besides, if you’re ever asked to download a program, it should be from the actual source, not a sketchy website that you’ve been redirected to.
“Hello Dearest Friend, I am Prince Akinola. During the recent uprising in my country, my father was murdered in his sleep. To protect his riches, I seek a trustworthy Person to help me transfer 3 million US dollars into an account for a time. Helping me, you will be able to keep 35% of it to use as you see Fit. Please reply to me immediately with your name and phone number so I can leave this country and transfer the money to you.”
These are some of the more infamous scams, originally appearing in Nigeria and spreading worldwide. Instead of providing you with a percentage of a fortune, the victim has their banking credentials stolen, or they are asked to pay processing fees before a payment can be delivered.
“I’m so glad I got the chance to send this message. I’m overseas in Europe and my wallet was stolen! I need $1,300 to get home. Could you wire over the money for me?”
In this version of the scam, a hacker will take over someone’s account and spread a story of being stranded overseas, desperately in need of money so they can find a way home. In cases like this, verification of the story needs to happen, whether it’s from someone closer to this friend or from a family member.
“Congratulations! A gift card worth $1500 is reserved for you!”
While it would certainly be nice to win some money, you know what they say… if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Some of these scams will ask for contact information so they can charge data fees to you, while others will flat-out steal your banking credentials. It’s very important that you keep in mind that you can’t win a contest you haven’t entered.
“Want to know who’s been looking at your profile? Install this application to find out.”
This particular scam tries to use popularity and curiosity as a means to get users to install a malicious application. While it might be nice to have more people notice a post, remember that scammers often utilize these traits to their advantage.
“Your IQ evaluation is finished. We’ll need a few more details to calculate your score, including your age and phone number.”
These apps and plugins will offer to test your intelligence, which appeals to the average user’s curiosity about their IQ score. These might ask for your phone number or other information, which in turn creates expenses for the user.
“We are writing you to confirm the account cancellation request that your submitted. To confirm or cancel this cancellation request, please link click below. Thank you, The Facebook Team”
Receiving a message about an account being cancelled might not seem like a suspicious thing to receive in your email but take a closer look. It might be a message from someone trying to steal your login credentials. Look for grammar and spelling errors in the message. After all, the real Facebook or Twitter has plenty of capital to hire editors and other professionals to ensure their messages are properly handled.
“Oh my god! LOL is this actually a photo of you?”
Some scammers can replicate another user’s profile and attempt to scam others with a message indicating shock at the user being in a photo. The link will then provide the scammer with information about the user. Try not to click on links that don’t look right and consider changing your profile settings so that only those with a connection to you can send you a message in the first place.
“Hey baby, I can’t wait to meet you, but I can’t quite swing the money for the ticket… could you send some cash to help me cover it? Looking forward to meeting in person.”
Romance in particular is a dangerous enabler for online scams. The Federal Trade Commission saw more than 21,000 reported romance scams in 2018 alone, and they cost a total of $143 million. The median loss to one of these scams in 2018 was around $2,600, more than seven times the median loss for any other fraud types.
If you think you’re being catfished, try to reverse engineer the profile of the person who is supposedly catfishing you to see if they are associated with multiple accounts. Furthermore, never send money to anyone who you haven’t met in person.
Utilizing social media in a secure fashion can be challenging, but it’s far from the only method of securing your business. For more ways to keep your company safe in an online environment, reach out to Marin Technologies at (208) 329-6792.