According to the FTC, “people lost money to scams that started on social media more than tripled in the past year, with a sharp increase in the second quarter of 2020.”
As you can see reports of social media scams are nothing new. Many of the reports to the FTC had an e-commerce hook, where often an ad was shown targeting a particular audience. Often times the ads look legitimate but the company name may be unusual or “fishy” sounding.
Here are a few common scams by the platform they are most likely found on:
One of the more popular Twitter Traps is the “Twitter Cash Starter Kit.” In this scam, you can use Twitter to make money from home by paying a small sign-up fee for the kit. To purchase the kit, you need to provide a credit card number. Sound familiar?
In another scam, you’re contacted by a “bot” (software that mimics a human being) pretending to give you access to a “pay-for-follower” service. If you take the bait, your bank or credit card information may be compromised. You could be accused of distributing spam and may be banished from the networking platform.
With more than two billion active monthly users, Facebook is a prime target for rip-off artists. One type of scam is called “catfishing.” The crook trolls the user base to find a victim, then begins establishing trust and building a relationship. Once an online “friendship” is in place, the crook agrees to meet the victim offline. Unfortunately, the “friend” needs travel funds or help with some other financial crisis. That’s when they ask you to provide the requisite funds, preferably via wire transfer.
You receive a message that your “memories” (photos) will be deleted unless you copy a message and share it with friends. The goal, of course, is to gain access to your online contacts and exploit them.
Gift card generating scams are extremely common. Many videos will redirect a user to a website that claims to “generate” mobile game resources or gift cards. There is usually some of to “hack” that you have to do as well.
According to Elijah Bouma-Sims and Bradley Reaves of North Carolina State University in their article “A First Look at Scams on YouTube,” they state that,
Before these gift card generators provide the currency or gift cards that they claim they can produce, they state that “human verification” is required to prevent overuse of the tool. This “verification” is achieved through a web survey or application download, likely providing a stream of income to scammers. The videos try to increase the realism of these scams by showing a gift card being redeemed or in-game currency rapidly increasing. Gift card generators often pretend to try automatic verification before requiring a survey or app download. In this way, these scams take advantage of fake feedback to try to fool users into thinking the scam is legitimate. While this particular type of scam does not seem to harm a user’s device or extract private information, it does mislead users and uses them to earn money. Additionally, with the scam’s prevalence on terms related to mobile games, young adults and even children may be particularly vulnerable.
The above social media scams may sound alarming, but there are ways you can protect yourself and your personal data. Consider the following:
- Set privacy controls.
- Choose strong passwords.
- Use caution when sharing personal information online.
- Never send money or give credit card information to someone you don’t know.
If you are just getting started with social media or if you find yourself in need of help managing your social media accounts for your small business or organization, feel free to reach out, we are here to help you with your social media management and marketing!