Don’t Let Scams Take the Fun out of Social Media
March 6, 2018
Have you ever been contacted by a “friend” on social media who has a great offer for you or who tells you that you’ve unexpectedly won money? While the idea seems great, it’s probably too good to be true, and, worse yet, the person contacting you might not be your friend at all.
Some con artists hack into an individual’s social media account and contact the person’s friends. While using your friend’s profile, a scammer may claim that you can receive a large amount of money as long as you pay a processing fee or taxes. The scammer may state that you have received the offer because you are a friend of another person who has won.
One Ohioan received a message from a family member who told her that she could receive a government grant if she contacted an agent and paid fees and taxes. She followed the instructions and paid the fees before realizing the message wasn’t truly from her family member. Instead, it was part of a scam that cost her thousands of dollars.
Another Ohioan discovered that her friend’s social media account had been hacked when she received a message from her friend’s account claiming she had won $100,000 from the “U.S. Worker’s Compensation Program,” but she would have to send about $1,000 to receive the rest of the winnings. Recognizing the potential scam, the consumer did not send any money.
To protect yourself from social media scams:
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
- Be skeptical of sending money in response to a message from a “friend” when asked via a social media app or website. Your friend’s account may have been hacked.
- Be leery of friend requests from those who you have already friended. They could be requests from a scammer trying to create a duplicate profile to impersonate that friend.
- Contact the person in a manner other than social media to verify whether that person truly sent you the message or whether the account was compromised.
- Look for red flags to detect scams through social media as you would with a scam delivered through the mail or over the telephone. For example, look for signs that the scammer is pressuring you to act immediately or wants you to pay through a wire transfer or prepaid money card. Beware if the scammer tells you not to tell friends or family about the conversation or describes an offer that seems too good to be true.
- Use a variety of unique, strong passwords (noted in a secure place) and change passwords frequently to protect your own account from being hacked.