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5 Shocking Social Media Scams

by : Stan Jaslar

Social media. It fills your time with lighthearted fun; it makes you realize you never liked your Uncle Bob or Aunt Diane that much. Regardless of how much you love or loathe social media, if you spend any time there, you need to be aware of potential scams. Just as thieves and pickpockets used to hang out at the mall or in the community square, they are in this social sphere as well, and here’s a look at some of their most common tricks.

Fake Cry for Help

You get a direct message from a relative. They are stranded in another country and they need your help. If you want them to get to safety, you need to follow some very precise instructions and send them money.

If you ever get a message like this, stop and assess the situation. Has your loved one told you they’ll be traveling? Is losing all their money and needing help in character for them? Before you hand over any more, try to call them and not by using social media voice chat tools. Call them directly or call another relative that’s close to them. In a lot of cases, these cries for help happen when malware takes over your relative’s computer or social media profile and begins messaging friends and family.

Identity Theft

Sometimes, the fake cry for help doesn’t plead for money. Instead, scammers try to find information they can use to open bank accounts or credit cards in your name. These requests may come in a variety of formats. In some cases, a scammer may open a new account for a loved one, send you a friend or follow request, and then pepper you with questions. A scammer could even take over your spouse’s account and ask you direct questions about your social security number such as “I’m just filling out this form, and I can’t remember your social security number. Can you send it to me?”

In other cases, the scammer may create an entirely fake profile. They may reach out to you and strike up a romance or try to become friends. Then, once they gain your trust, they try to get the details they need to commit identity theft. Even without involving direct messages, social media accounts can contain a lot of personal information that is often used to answer security questions. To protect yourself, make sure that you are very careful with the details you share.

Bait-and-Switch Quizzes

There are also a lot of bait-and-switch scams on social media. These scams can take a number of different forms, but the overall premise is the same. The scammer tries to get you to pay a fee or share personal information. For instance, you might get a message or see a link about taking a test. The test is something very compelling such as “Which Marine Mammal Matches Your Personality” or “Which Golden Girl Are You?” As soon as you see the test, you stop everything you are doing, because you have to know the answer, but unlike most online tests, this one requires you to text a code to a certain number.

You’re hooked at this point, so you follow through with the instructions and find out that you’re a dolphin or a perfect match for the Betty White character. But unfortunately, while you’ve been unearthing the answers to critical life questions, a group of scammers have been enrolling you in a subscription-based service, and somehow, you’ve authorized a charge to come out of your bank account every month. Be very careful about sharing information or texting numbers you don’t know.

Fake Sign-In Links

Sometimes, you may receive a link over text, email, or direct message. The tagline says something compelling like “you’ve got to see these amazing pictures” or “find out why your friends are laughing”. When you click the link, it takes you to what appears to be the homepage of your favorite social media site, so you enter your user name and password, but it wasn’t the real site. This site was set up to trace the information you entered, and now, the scammers have your log-in details.

Promoting Worthless Stocks

According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), some scammers use social media to promote bad investments. These unscrupulous people may tag you or send you messages about promising stocks. With some scams, the stocks may be utterly worthless, but in other cases, the scammers may be using a pump-and-dump strategy.

With pump and dump, the scammers convince multiple people to buy stocks. Then, as the stock is selling, the demand increases the price. After the scammers pump the price as high as possible, they dump all their stocks. At that point, the market loses value, and you lose all the value associated with your stock.

In addition to protecting yourself from social media threats, you also need to make sure your customers understand them. To get help with fraud prevention, contact us today. At SQN Banking Systems, we simplify fraud protection for our clients.

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