Defend Yourself Against Social Media Scams

Female hands using cell phone

Social media provides a great way for us to stay connected with family, friends, and colleagues, but it’s also a way that scammers trick you into sharing information that can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Protect yourself and your information by learning the red flags of these common social media scams.

Celebrity Scams

There has been a recent rise in scams involving celebrity social media profiles. Most often, it’s actually a scammer posing as the celebrity. Even if the celebrity appears to be live streaming a video, those can be faked and manipulated. There are several variations on these scams. The “celebrity” may post requesting money from fans, donations to a cause, gift cards or wire transfers. In some instances, they may claim to be giving away exclusive tickets or hosting a big cash giveaway.

While there are some celebrities that give back or raise money, it’s imperative that you do a little bit of digging and use your best judgement before sharing any information or sending money to anyone, no matter how supposedly famous they might be. Never send money, gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or wire transfers to somebody you don’t know. You should also never share your financial account information with anyone, especially your digital banking login credentials, even a celebrity urging their followers to share this information for a chance at a cash giveaway.

Payment App Scams

There has also been a rise in scams using popular peer-to-peer payment apps such as CashApp, Venmo, and PayPal. As mentioned with celebrity scams, influencers and celebrities may host online cash giveaways for their followers through these apps. Again, these are often scammers and not the actual person. They will encourage followers to share their handle for these payment apps and then send some of them hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But then, the scammer will request that the follower actually sends them a small amount of cash first as a means to verify their legitimacy. If you are sent a message with a link and a request for a “verification fee,” this is a phishing scam to steal your credentials.

There have also been reports of scammers contacting someone who shared their payment app handle, then requesting that the person provide the information for their financial institution account such as their account number, security questions, or digital banking login credentials, so that they can deposit the money directly into your financial account. This is always a scam. If you give them this information, you are giving them full access to your account, and there is nothing stopping them from wiping out your account. You should never under any circumstances share your financial account information with anyone.

Information Scams

You’ve probably seen those chain questionnaires or quizzes that friends share on social media, but you may not realize the information those “games” use is the same information commonly used for account protection and password recovery. Information like your first pet’s name, the street you grew up on, the first concert you went to, and so on. What may seem like harmless entertainment can put your information out there for the wrong people to see. As fun as it may seem, you’re safer NOT playing games when it comes to your personal information.

Hacked Account Scams

Hacked account scams are when someone you know has their social media account hacked by someone who sends messages posing as your friend, usually asking for money. If you receive a message from a friend asking for money, contact them directly via phone or in person to verify it’s actually them asking. Chances are their account has been hacked and you’ll be doing them a big favor by confirming the request is legitimate.

Romance Scams

You are probably familiar with the concept of catfishing, wherein someone pretends to be someone else online, often for the purpose of developing relationships. Romance scams are a particularly insidious form of catfishing as these scams are carried out with the intent to cause emotional as well as financial devastation. These scams may go on for quite some time, all the while building a trust and connection. Once trust is established, the scammer will begin to ask for money, often fabricating stories of some hardship they are facing. These stories can become quite outlandish and drawn out as a means to justify continued requests for more money. Once their requests are finally denied, or their target has been drained of all financial support, or sometimes even as soon as the first request for money is met, the love interest disappears. You should never give money to someone you haven’t met without first verifying their identity, if not in person then at least over video chat or phone call.

Fake Charity Scams

Another particularly wretched type of social media scam is fake charity scams. These often pop up and spread around through friend shares following a major tragedy, natural disaster, or some other terrible event, offering opportunities to donate to a charity in need of support. Unfortunately scammers lie in wait to prey on people’s natural instincts to help those in need. Be sure to always verify an organization from their website and rely on compiled lists of credible non-profits rather than following links from social media posts.

Sweepstakes, Lottery, and Prize Scams

These types of scams notify you of a large sum of money or other awesome prize you’ve won, but then ask for a fee or payment in order for you to claim it, usually via wire transfer. But remember, if you never entered, you couldn’t have won. If you’re alerted of a prize you’ve won on social media, be very skeptical.

Investment Scams and Job Offer Scams

Claims of significant returns on a small initial investment or guaranteed profit should raise a red flag. If someone contacts you offering a disproportionate return on your investment, or promising exceptional payment for simple work tasks, be very skeptical. Especially if they attempt to pressure you with a limited-time offer. If it seems too good to be true, it almost always is. Don’t blindly pay for starter kits or send money to strangers no matter how good the opportunity sounds.

Credit Repair Scams

Be cautious of claims for a new credit identity. Credit repair scams promise quick fixes to your credit report, as long as you send the scammers money. If you need help rebuilding your credit, the U.S. Department of Justice publishes a list of credible credit counselors. Don’t accept offers for affordable credit repair through social media channels without verifying their legitimacy first.

Always remember that if something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. Never give money or personal information to someone you don’t know.

Robins Financial Credit Union will never contact you on social media to request account information. If we contact you on social media for any other purposes, it will only be through one of our official accounts listed below:

If you suspect your account information has been compromised, report it to us immediately at 478-923-3773.

Robins Financial Credit Union is committed to protecting the safety and security of our members. To learn more about how we protect our members every day, give us a call or stop by any of our branch locations.

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