For scammers, there’s a lot to like about social media. It’s a low-cost way to reach billions of people from anywhere in the world. It’s easy to manufacture a fake persona, or scammers can hack into an existing profile to get “friends” to con. There’s the ability to fine-tune their approach by studying the personal details people share on social media. In fact, scammers could easily use the tools available to advertisers on social media platforms to systematically target people with bogus ads based on personal details such as their age, interests, or past purchases.
Social media is tool number #1 for scammers in 2022 in investment scams, particularly those involving bogus cryptocurrency investments — an area that has seen a massive surge in filed complaints and investigations. More than half of people who reported losses to investment scams in 2021/2022 said the scam started on social media. Almost any 4th ad on social media platforms promotes bogus investment opportunities, from Crypto to Condos in Dubai.
After investment scams, romance scams are the second most profitable fraud on social media. Losses to romance scams have climbed to record highs in recent years.
Together, investment scams, romance scams, and online shopping fraud accounted for over 70% of reported losses to social media scams in 2021. But there are many other frauds on social media too, and new ones popping up all the time.
Here are 5 (minimum) ways to help you and your family stay safe on social media:
- Limit who can see your posts and information on social media. All platforms collect information about you from your activities on social media but visit your privacy settings to set some restrictions.
- Check if you can opt-out of targeted advertising. Some platforms let you do that.
- If you get a message from a friend about an opportunity or an urgent need for money, call them. Their account may have been hacked – especially if they ask you to pay by cryptocurrency, gift card, or wire transfer. That’s how scammers ask you to pay.
- If someone appears on your social media and rushes you to start a friendship or romance, slow down. Read about romance scams. And never(!!!) send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
- Before you buy, send money or react on to glory offers of ANY kind, check out the company. Search online for its name plus “scam”, “fraud” “warning” or “complaint.”