Beware! Eight Social Media Scams

By on October 21, 2014
social media scams

Social media has evolved past just a simple form of entertainment or diversion. It has even advanced to more than communication with long lost friends and family. For many, it has become an essential part of our lives.

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to these popular networks. Virus writers, hackers, and other internet scammers go where the people are. That means, you are an easy target for some of the internet’s foulest cyber criminals.

Anytime you log into your social media account—whether personal or business—you must be on the lookout for potential fraudsters and internet scam opportunities. Here are eight that have become quite popular recently.

1. Downloading Apps

There are tons of apps available to make our social media experience more enjoyable. However, not all apps are from reputable suppliers. And even the ones that are genuine are susceptible to being hacked.

For example, a recent scam targeted people using WhatsApp. By directing visitors to a site that looked legitimate, hackers actually signed them up for a very expensive text message service.

 

2. Viruses in Messages

Twitter users where recently hit by a stealthy virus. A direct message was delivered and the original sender appeared to be a follower. By clicking on the link in the DM, the twitter account was infected. Or worse, the user’s identity was stolen.

Hackers and scammers are drawn to these types of unsavory behavior because of all the valuable information stored in apps on our phones.

 

3. Fictitious News Stories

Have you seen a link to a news story that involves some sensational act happening to one of the world’s favorite celebrities? The sharing of these links has become quite popular in news feeds of various social networks.

The aim of this sensational news headline is to grab the readers’ attention. And once they click on the link, a virus will take over the computer.

 

4. Chain Letters

Retweet this and Kanye West will donate $10 million to our charity! Like this post and you could win a free iPad!

Take a moment to think about these claims. Would any celebrity donate a massive amount of money just because some random people out in social media land want him to? And would a complete stranger who has no ties to you really want to give you an extravagant gift?

In all reality, both the claim and the cause are fake.

At best, these chain letter scams might be instigated by a prankster hoping for a chuckle. In reality, it is probably a scammer who needs a ready-made list of targets for his next big act of fraud.

 

5. Requests for Money

By now, most of us are (hopefully) leery of any message we may receive from a Nigerian prince who needs money. But what if that request came from someone we actually know—or think we know?

The computer of a social media friend or follower might be infected with malware. And that infection captures all his contact information from social media accounts and then forwards a bogus request.

If you get one of these, “I need money!” messages from someone, verify the legitimacy of the request before taking action. A simple phone call could be all it takes to save yourself from a big financial loss. If you do get one of these fake messages, make sure your computer hasn’t been hacked too.

 

6. Entertainment as an Excuse to Gather Information

Scrolling through your news feed, you’re bound to stumble upon something like, “Find out how much of a control freak you are.” Many people can’t resist the urge to take these quizzes and brag about the results to their friends.

However, many quizzes ask the user to answer the questions, enter a phone number, and then the results will be texted.

Unfortunately, the quiz taker will get much more than results—a hefty bill for premium texting services will also be provided.

 

7. Email Phishing

Hackers will send emails saying something like, “One of your friends just uploaded pictures of you acting like a drunken fool at a party. Check them out here!”

If the email recipient is the type to occasionally act like a drunken fool, this email could seem legit. Clicking on the link in the email leads to what appears to be the Twitter or Facebook login page.

After entering the necessary login information, the hacker will have access to your password—and total control of your accounts.

 

8. Shortened URLs

Because of the restricted number of characters available for a Twitter post, many people rely on shortened URLs.

In theory, there is nothing wrong with clicking on a shortened URL—it should redirect you to the intended target. But in reality, you have no idea where that URL leads. Clicking on a shortened URL could install viruses on your computer.

 

How to Avoid Social Media Scams

Being aware of potential threats is very valuable—knowledge arms you against these suspicious activities.

However, that is only half the battle. There are several other things you can do to protect your social networks, personal information, and bank accounts.

  • Make sure your computer’s antivirus protection and firewalls are up-to-date.
  • Consider purchasing internet security plans that include anti-phishing protection.
  • Check to make sure your spyware and virus protection operates in real-time.
  • Don’t use public computers to check your social media accounts. Key tracking software might monitor your login information.
  • Don’t use free Wi-Fi in public places to check your social media accounts. Hackers can easily penetrate these networks.
  • If in doubt, don’t proceed.
  • If you click on a link in an email and it directs you to a login page, do not proceed.
  • Be very careful of the information you store on your computer and phone. Hackers and scammers can use your social media accounts to gain access to your personal information.

If you do become a victim of an online scam, don’t panic.

  • File a scam report. The type of scam report you intend to file will depend on your goals (getting your money back, file criminal charges) and the origin of the scam (email, social media, etc.).
  • Change your passwords. Make sure they are complex and difficult to guess.
  • Notify friends and followers of any potential threat to the as a result of your account infiltration.

Social media is as great as we all believe it to be. But it does deserve our respect and vigilant attention to details.

Have you fallen for a social media scam? How did it affect you and your network?

About Jessica Velasco

Jessica Velasco works for a marketing firm, interacting with clients in a wide variety of niches. She has seen first-hand what does and doesn’t work—as well as industry-specific trends of importance. You can find Jessica on Google+.
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    • James

      lol we should avoid clicking in link like this. totally off-topic, right?

  • James

    There is just one way to avoid this. You dont even need an antivirus. Because, consider this: I haven’t changed my operating system since windows 7 was launched for the first time, I dont have antivirus yet I am not having any problem. That is because: I dont just click here and there, I dont install any addon software that comes attached to what I actually want to install. I dont make payment just anywhere haha, most importantly, I use WOT scorecard

  • thomas vesely

    perhaps someone knows.
    on disqus to my account 10 followers were added in the last 48 hours….previously i’d had 6 followers
    for the last 3 years…
    this was very unusual.
    all the new followers have Turkish names !
    none of them have posts.
    appear to be new accounts..
    thanks if anyone has a clue as to this weird thing……………

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