Social Media Scams

Today, the world is a global village, thanks to social media and the internet at large. Popular social media platforms like Facebook, with approximately 2.85 billion monthly active users, play an influential role in bringing friends, families, and strangers from all over the world together. Other sites like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn also attract billions of lively users from all walks of life.

Essentially, social media makes it effortless to build relationships, connect with different people, learn about new cultures, share your skills, etc. But let’s face it; not all users’ intentions are pure when interacting with you on social media. Incidents of scammers impersonating celebrities, luring users with fake giveaways, trying to extract your data through quizzes, etc., are abundant on social media, and it takes a keen eye to skip the bait.

This article expounds on the top social media scams, how to avoid them, and what to do if your account gets compromised. So let’s get down to business!

1. Facebook Quizzes

Beware of Facebook quizzes that often seem intriguing and harmless yet too personal to some extent. Sometimes, scammers usually leverage these quizzes to dig out your personal data at the expense of you thinking it’s harmless entertainment. Others even push you to launch a quiz app that may give its developers permission to extract your profile info, creating a window for threat actors to steal your identity.

More so, you want to watch out for innocent-sounding queries like:

  • What was your first car?
  • What was the name of your high school?
  • What was your breakthrough job?

Scammers are well aware that financial institutions often pose these as security questions to protect your account. So avoid filling suspicious social media questionnaires at all costs, lest you risk giving scammers your sensitive credentials.

2. Fake Giveaways

It’s hard to resist $1000 in free groceries, gift cards, or designer clothes. It’s easy to get tempted by a feigned social media giveaway, especially when living on a budget. But before you comment, like, and share these posts or click on the link attached, hoping to win a prize, you want to confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that the giveaway is genuine.

Here’s how the scam works. First, a scammer promotes a giveaway on social media and states that to enter the draw to win a substantial prize, all you have to do is like, comment, or share the post. Sounds like a child’s play, huh?

But here’s the catch; the “giveaways” don’t actually exist. Instead, the scammer intends to garner as many likes and comments as possible – a technique known as “like-farming.” After the post receives colossal attention, the scammer adds a malicious link, so they can hunt your personal data when you click it. Alternatively, they can erase the account’s original content and turn it into a spammy products’ promotion page or trade it in the black market.

3. Celebrity Imposters

Fake celebrities are all over social media trying to defraud unsuspecting users. So if your favorite star reaches out to you on social media, DO NOT get too excited before confirming if it’s the real person. These imposters use all tactics to scam fans of their hard-earned money by soliciting non-existing charity donations, promising backstage passes for upcoming events, or offering different prizes.

While it’s not uncommon for genuine celebrities to raise money for legitimate causes, you want to be extremely careful to confirm that whoever is asking for support is a real celebrity. But generally, social media imposters can be easy to identify because, first, a well-known celebrity can barely ask their fans for money. Also, most genuine celebrity accounts are verified, i.e., have blue ticks and have a massive following, unlike the scammers.

4. “Is that You in this Photo/Video?”

If you ever get asked such a question on social media with a link supposedly leading you to the photo/video, please resist the urge to open it. If you click the link, it leads you to a site that mimics a popular social media platform. You’ll then get prompted to log in, a bait that enables hackers to get your details and access your account.

Likewise, social media scammers are notorious for leveraging Facebook’s tagging feature to spread malicious links via supposedly suggestive videos. So to be on the safer side, avoid clicking any links sent to you by random strangers or the ones you’ve been tagged on.

Tips for Avoiding Social Media Scams

Here are some actionable tips you can implement in the course of your social media usage to avoid getting scammed:

  • If it’s too good to be true, the chances are that it’s not true. Always trust your guts and avoid participating in posts or clicking links that promise fake giveaways.
  • If you must participate in quizzes and surveys, be sure to fill out questionnaires from reputable sites only.
  • Shy away from quizzes that lean more towards your personal data like date of birth, email address, home address, ID number, etc.
  • Avoid social media ads and posts that offer exceedingly low prices on famous brand products.
  • Never download apps provided via social media links unless you really need them and can confirm that they come from a reliable source.
  • Be wary of strangers who forge close relationships or bonds all of a sudden, and cut them loose if they start asking for money.
  • Avoid logging in to your social media accounts while using a public Wi-Fi network, as most of them are usually poorly secured, creating a loophole for scammers to access your personal data.

What to do if Your Online Account Gets Compromised

Here are some quick tips to help recover your online accounts from rogue hackers:

Change Your Password

If you suspect that your social media account has been hacked, but you can still log in, use that chance to change the password using characters that are hard to guess. But if you can’t log in, be sure to check out the advice that social network providers usually give on how to restore and protect your account.

Have Your Device Assessed by a Reliable IT Expert

Some scams may be challenging to point out by a layperson. For instance, some scammers may set up websites mimicking a reputable manufacturer or provide phone numbers that appear to direct you to technical support specialists. In such cases, it’s advisable to take your device to an IT professional for an expert-level inspection.

Set up Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is a security procedure that requires users to provide two or more pieces of evidence to prove identity, say a password plus a code. Enabling this security feature ensures that a hacker can’t compromise your account even if they manage to crack your password.

Let Us Help Protect Your Accounts!

As a business, your social media presence is just as vital as product development or any other value-adding business activity. Through social media, you can effortlessly attract customers, increase your market outreach, conduct market research, establish your brand, etc. However, scammers can also be your downfall by defrauding users in your company’s name, promising fake giveaways, offering your products at a low price, thus ruining your reputation, etc.

Luckily, we can help you avoid all these potential misfortunes by securing and managing your social media accounts with our first-world security solutions. So contact us today, and let us protect your business from online bullies!

Written by James Forbis
Posted on: July 11, 2021