We are living in a digital world where we use social media sites for a variety of reasons. From creating a new account to interacting with friends, family, or brands, we usually share plenty of personal and sensitive information through social media. The personal and sensitive information we share on social media makes us an ideal target for modern-day thieves and cybercriminals. Social media scams are growing day by day as malicious persons use them to exploit internet users via social media apps they use.
What are Social Media Scams?
Activities conducted by cyber criminals using social media to steal personal information and details of users are known as social media scams. They come in a variety of forms including fake social media contests, friendship requests, donation requests or giveaways, etc. Bad guys always come up with new techniques to fool people and take their personal information for malicious purposes. They ask social media users to share their personal information for a free gift, discount coupon or something like that. So, never click on links shared by an anonymous user, and don’t share your sensitive information with someone you don’t know personally. If a user is pretending as a representative of a brand or company, contact the brand using their contact details for confirmation.
Different Types of Social Media Scams
Understanding the different types of social media scams is the first step in protecting yourself from cybercriminals. Below are some scams that you may face while using social media apps.
Social Media Phishing
A scam conducted via social media where cyber criminals send personal messages to social media users pretending to be a representative of a bank, brand or company. They try to get the user to click the link or download the attached file to install malware on a smartphone or computer. This as a result can take all personal details and data stored on the device to hackers.
Social media profile cloning involves creating social media profiles of your friends and family members. After creating profiles with the same name and using the same imagery, cyber criminals send friend or follow requests to gain your trust. Once a strong link is established, they may ask you to send money or personal information that they can use for different malicious purposes.
An imposter scam is a process in which criminals pretend to be someone from a charitable organization or a needy person to request you some money or personal details. Sometimes they pretend people you know closely and ask for quick financial help to fulfill emergency situations.
A malware scam is a technique used to install malicious apps or software on the computer of social media users to damage or access information and data stored on the computer. There are so many malicious apps available on the web that can harm your device or allow criminals to access your computer. After installing malware and getting access to your data, criminals ask for money to give your data back.
How to Protect yourself from Social Media Scams?
The best way to protect yourself from cyber criminals and social media scams is to use common sense and be careful about what information and details you share on your social media profiles.
Below are some security tips you can consider to prevent hacking or cyber security threats through social media.
- Don’t open attachments or click on links shared by anonymous social media users
- If you receive friend or follow requests from unknown persons, don’t accept
- If someone out of your friends list try to send you a message, don’t respond and block or report the user
- Don’t share your personal and sensitive details with someone you don’t know personally. If someone is pretending as a professional from a bank or company, you should contact the bank or company yourself to confirm the matter.
- Don’t share excessive personal information on your social media profiles
- Always choose strong passwords and opt for two-factor authentication to keep your accounts protected
- Always download social media apps from trusted sources like Google Play Store or Apple store
- Use social media sites that are trusted and popular among people. Avoid using an app if you find it insecure and fraudulent
- If you find yourself a victim of social media fraud, be quick to contact the local cyber-criminal authority and file your complaint with all necessary details
Social media is an integral part of our personal lives. We use social media apps and sites for personal communications, to stay aware of local news & updates, and to buy stuff online. Some people also use social media to promote their businesses and products online. By following the above-mentioned security tips, you can protect your social media profiles and keep yourself away from social media scams.