Whether it’s scrolling through Facebook to see what old friends are up to or browsing Pinterest for the latest interior design ideas, it’s likely that you spend at least a small amount of time on some form of social media each day. In fact, according to a recent study, upwards of 4.48 billion people currently use social media, which is more than double the total number in 2015 (2.07 billion).
While social media provides us with great opportunities like connecting with loved ones in different states or getting real-time news updates, it can also lead to your important personal or financial information being stolen.
Users should be aware of the following scams and tips to avoid them when using social media.
Stick to the Platform
Only send money to people you know after verifying the request. When using online selling platforms like Facebook Marketplace or eBay, be sure to check out seller reviews before paying for an item. Sellers will often try to make deals outside of the selling platform to avoid fees. Buyers should never agree to this as it removes their protection from the platform.
Be wary if a request is ‘urgent’. In legitimate transactions, there will be time to ask questions. If the seller is pressuring you to make the purchase because they “need the money quickly” or “have multiple other offers”, then there is a good chance they are attempting to scam you.
Never wire transfer funds to a stranger or provide banking information to anyone. Only stick to platforms with secure payment systems. If you are making an exchange in person, only pay for the item after you have it in hand.
Never accept money in the form of a check when dealing with strangers online. A common scam starts with the buyer overpaying you in the form of a check. Then, they ask you to “refund” the amount overpaid. Once you do so, they disappear. Their check will bounce, and you will have lost your money as well as your item.
Do not click on random articles you find on social media no matter how interesting the headline may be. These articles are called clickbait articles. When they are clicked, users often have to enter their credentials in what looks to be the social media platform they are on. However, this can be a fake login screen and will give them access to your account and any personal information in it.
We have all received a message from one of Facebook friends that says, “Check out this video!”. Typically, these are a scam, and the link will pull your personal information if clicked on similar to the way clickbait articles operate. Be careful of direct messages that seem off, especially if they come from someone you don’t frequently communicate with.
Many relationships now begin on social media. With this in mind, scammers often take advantage of people by creating a fake profile to meet their potential victims online. It starts with building up a relationship but often turns into an urgent request for money after trust has been established.