Using social media to keep track of loved ones can be a blessing in many ways. But there are negative sides to social media. Among the biggest downsides are scams designed to steal money from the less experienced. You don’t have to quit using social media altogether to avoid being scammed. Just be wary and keep your guard up. Here is a starting list of scams to watch out for.
Scrutinize the Address
The best way to spot a scam is to look for inconsistencies with web addresses, email addresses, and the names of files to download. Go directly to the source if you think you received an email from Facebook or Instagram. Here are some of the scams you may encounter:
- You Won a Gift Card from Amazon: You will receive a pop-up saying that you’ve won a free gift card! The Amazon logo will look very authentic, and when you click on it, they will ask for personal information to claim the gift card. When you click on it, examine the website carefully. It will have a mixture of letters that indicates it is not an Amazon address. It is best to leave those pop-ups alone.
- Your Account Has Been Deactivated: What appears to be a message from Facebook will say your account is no longer active. You will be asked to log in to your account, where your information can be stolen or used to scam others. Red flags will include a lengthy email address that is not a Facebook email.
- “Is This You in This Photo?”: You might receive a private message on Facebook or Twitter saying, “I saw you in this photo.” They want you to click on it, where you’ll be prompted to enter your login ID to view the image. Your personal information can be stolen in this way. Do not click on a link if you do not know who sent it.
- Celebrity Gossip Clickbait: Provocative messaging can get users to click on images. Something like, “Wait until you see what they look like now.” And when you click on the photo, you will be prompted to download a version of Adobe or what seems to be legitimate software. Instead, it will download malware or a virus onto your computer. Do not be fooled by clickbait phrasing.
- Catfishing Romance: Someone on Facebook will reach out to you, pretending to fall in love with you. Eventually, in some subtle way, they will ask you for money. They can sound very genuine and play to your emotions. Look for inconsistencies with pictures posted on their profile, if they have very few Facebook friends, or if their personal details do not match up.
If you are wary of an email or social media request, ask a friend or family member for help in identifying the authenticity. It is always a good idea to get another set of eyes on something unfamiliar to you. These scams get people every day, so there is no shame if you are the victim of a scam.
This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.