The rate of fraudulent attacks on social media has increased by more than 43% from 2018 to 2019, and criminals have since been finding new ways to exploit social media users.
The loss cost is estimated to be more than $3.5 billion dollars. Those who regularly engage on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are more exposed to information sharing. Hence, they are more likely to fall prey to fraudulent activity, according to Javelin Strategy and Research.
The FTC estimates $117 million dollars in fraud during the first six months of 2020 that were initiated on social media. What are the most common scams?
Dating scam for individuals
This scam identifies people who want to date through social media or by using a dating app. Roughly 50% of these scams in 2019 started on social media, most often on Facebook or Instagram. People have reported over $200 million dollars in losses that year alone. This is typically successful when the scammer puts time into building trust relationships with their victims and lures them into giving them money by preying on someone’s emotions. They report a personal crisis such as outstanding medical bills, needing money to pay for a trip to visit the victim, problems with their child or family member, etc.
COVID-19 scam for small businesses
Many small businesses have suffered financially due to the pandemic and resulting economic downturn. This allowed scammers to create “opportunities” to increase revenue for vulnerable businesses or promise to provide them with PPE for free or at a deeply discounted price. Once the “partnership” forms, the scammer goes on to attempt to obtain financial information for the purpose of gaining access to their bank accounts.
During the pandemic, many fake charities have been formed to trick people into giving them money by taking advantage of your generosity. They set up names that are similar to real charities to fool you into thinking they are helping victims of the pandemic. Carefully research any charity before donating. And, never give via wire transfer.
Here are some tips to help you steer clear of scammers on social media:
- Before you buy based on an ad or post, check out the company. Type its name in a search engine with words like or “scam” or “complaint.”
- Never send money to a love interest you have not met in person.
- If you get a message from a friend about a way to get some financial relief, call them. Did they forward it to you? If not, tell them their account may have been hacked. If so, check it out before you act.
- Before paying into an “opportunity” to earn money, check out ftc.gov/mlm.
- Don’t make it easy for scammers to target you – check your social media privacy settings to limit what you share publicly.
Visit FTC Website Social Media Scams for additional information.
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