Social Media Awareness Common Scams on the Internet

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The advantages of social media are plentiful. Websites like Facebook and Twitter allow us to connect with old and new friends, share photographs and videos, learn about and discuss current events and bring awareness to and promote events, among many others. Whatever our needs, social media platforms likely have something available to suit them. But there are also risks. The Internet provides anonymity, which attracts scam artists and their creative schemes. Because of social media’s popularity, scam artists have access to a much larger population of people that could potentially be tricked by one of their scams. When you are using social media for all of its wonderful benefits, 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 online for these sites. Some social media scams can have a minimal affect on you, but others could have a devastating impact 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 the accounts of your friends and family members to send you a private message saying they are stranded in a foreign country and need money to get back home. Of course you’ll want to help a friend in need, but you could also lose a lot of money if it is a scam. Scam artists using this scheme will typically ask for Western Union or wire transfers and convey a strong sense of urgency. After all, 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 have also realized that. 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 electricity bill this week,” or as complex as “I want to visit you but 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, posts telling you to “share this status, and win a free iPad!” may possibly be from a legitimate company running a contest to promote themselves. If you share a picture of yourself at one of their stores, you could win a free gift card, or something along those lines. 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.


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April Clobes

April Clobes is Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer for MSU Federal Credit Union in East Lansing. She can be contacted by e-mail or by calling (517) 333-2254.

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