The advantages of social media are plentiful. It allow us to connect with old and new friends, share photographs and videos, learn about and discuss current events, bring awareness to, and promote, events, among many others. Whatever our needs, social media platforms likely have something available to suit us — but there are also risks.
The Internet provides a certain anonymity, attracting scam artists and their creative schemes. Because of social media’s popularity, scam artists have access to a much larger population of people to be tricked by one of their scams. When you use social media, be aware of potential scams. Of course, you will want to personalize your social media profiles, but make sure that you don’t provide any of your financial information on these sites. Some social media scams can be minimal, but others could have devastating effects depending upon the amount and type of information that was compromised. Below, we’ve listed some of the common scams found on social media so you know what to avoid.
Stranded and Need Money Scams
Scammers will hack accounts of your friends and family to send you a private message saying they are stranded in a foreign country and need money to get back home. Scam artists using this scheme will typically ask for Western Union or wire transfers and convey a strong sense of urgency. They need the money now if they are to return home. Before you call your credit union or financial institution to send money, take some time to get more information. This will help you better determine if the message is a scam or not.
Online Dating Scams
In our busy lives, there isn’t always time to meet someone. Online dating is a great alternative that can fit more easily into our schedules. The problem is that scam artists also know this. At first, you’re just messaging back and forth, learning about one another. Then, the requests — often financial — begin. The stories could be as simple as “my employer isn’t able to pay me until next week, but I need to pay my electric bill this week,” or as complex as “I want to visit you but I can’t afford my plane ticket.” It’s been said that money can’t buy you love, but these scam artists think differently. Protect your heart and your wallet by watching out for these scams.
Post and Win Scams
Typically, these types of scams catch your attention by offering a free prize for sharing, posting or tweeting something. For example: “Share this status, and win a free iPad!” It is possible a legitimate company is running a contest to promote itself. Because some contests are real and some are scams, you’ll want to do some research before posting anything on your social media account. If the contest is a scam, posting something on your account could provide the scammers with any personal information that is tied to your social media account.
While these are just a few of the possible scams and scenarios that you may encounter, we hope that you can use these examples to search for red flags elsewhere and also know when to report possible scams that you see to the website’s administrator. Social media is an effective tool for many purposes; but scammers know that, too. Be aware of the possible risks, and use that knowledge to make the best judgments while using your social media profiles.