Online fraud makes up about 86% of all fraud in the UK according to the Home Office. We’re wired to be social creatures but the platforms we use to connect with friends and acquaintances can serve as a “gateway” for fraudsters attempting financial scams.
To help you avoid a con or viral infection, we’ve put together a list of five social media scams you should be aware of:
1. Phishing attempts with fake links
While phishing is largely popular in email, private messages on social media can also contain phishing links. Never open a link in an unsolicited message unless you requested the link and/or know exactly where the link is going.
2. Fake friends or followers
Just about anyone can buy followers online for as little as £1. Some fake accounts may be innocuous but sometimes fake accounts will friend or add you only to send you a dangerous phishing message.
3. Identity theft
Hackers use social media for information: location updates and holiday posts to facilitate burglary and personal information to crack passwords or steal identities.
Avoid publicly posting the following on your social accounts:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Pet names
4. Fake giveaways
Social media based competitions are widely popular as they create lots of interaction. While entering a giveaway might be tempting, be aware of fake giveaways specifically created with the intention of tricking people into handing over precious information. Stay vigilant if you see a new social media account advertising for a company you well known brand.
5. Affiliate scams
Scammers create social media accounts and pay to have their scam message advertised to you in your timeline.
Affiliate scams are incentive programs where companies pay an affiliate to drive traffic or new subscribers to their site. For example, you might see an ad offering a gift card for a department store to the first 20 people to enter their email address. However, when you enter your email address and hit submit, the scammer will earn a referral fee for your email address and you’ll never see the gift card. Instead, your inbox will be inundated with spam emails.