Avoiding Social Media Scams
Social networks are a great way to make connections and stay up-to-date with friends, family, colleagues, and more, but they can also be a tool for criminals to access information and trick people into falling for scams. The best way you can protect yourself is by remaining cautious and remembering that if something seems suspicious, it probably is. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs for common social media scams so you can protect yourself and your information.
Sweepstakes, Lottery, and Prize Scams
These are some of the most common scams. Targets are told they’ve won a large sum of money or some other type of grand prize, but must first pay a fee, typically via wire transfer, in order to receive their winnings. Before you do anything else, take a moment to research whomever is contacting you; try to find their official website and contact them directly via the phone number listed on their website and ask them to verify if you have actually won anything. And of course, remember that you can’t win a contest you haven’t entered, so that should always be a big red flag.
Hacked Profile Scams
Fraudsters will hack someone’s social media account and then infiltrate their direct messages to message people in the victim’s network, posing as them. The fraudsters might ask you to send them money and promise to pay you back, but they never do. Reach out to the person who you are seemingly communicating with and verify their request, but speak to them directly. Call them, speak to them in person, or ask their family and friends to see if their story checks out.
Claims that you can earn several times what you invest sound promising, but are likely too good to be true. Don’t let yourself be fooled by promises of significant financial gain in return for a small initial investment. Be skeptical if someone contacts you claiming they can guarantee you a disproportionate return on your investment, especially if they attempt to pressure you into making a decision with a limited-time offer.
Job Offer Scams
Many of us occasionally make an idle wish to be able to earn lots of money with little work involved, but unfortunately this is little more than an unattainable dream for most. If you see an advertisement or receive a message offering guaranteed profits or a way to earn large sums of money, it’s natural to be curious. But then you’re asked to pay a fee to sign up, purchase a starter kit, or provide personal information. Be suspicious of guarantees to earn a lot of money for simple tasks, requirements to pay upfront for materials or training information (especially via gift cards or wire transfers), vague descriptions of what the job entails, or requests for personal information, especially your financial account information or Social Security Number.
Most people are familiar with the concept of catfishing, where someone online pretends to be someone they are not. Romance scams take this one step further, with the intent to cause financial (and emotional) devastation. These scammers will develop a relationship with their target, then take advantage once trust is established and begin to ask for money, sometimes with outlandish stories of hard times. If you agree to send them money, they either disappear after getting what they want, or they continue to fabricate situations and request money until you either realize that you are dealing with a scam artist, or have no money left to give. Never give money to someone you haven’t met. If they refuse to meet you in person or even speak to you over the phone or video chat, tell them you aren’t comfortable sending them money.
Credit Repair Scams
Be wary of ads or direct messages promising a new credit identity. Credit repair scams (guarantee to remove negative information from your credit report and help significantly increase your credit score. But some credit repair scammers will report all of your credit accounts, loans and inquiries as fraudulent, even the ones that are legitimate, meaning you would have to contact each of the credit bureaus to get your report corrected. Be suspicious if the scammers request payment before doing any work, ask for your financial account numbers, tell you not to contact the credit reporting agencies, or tell you to dispute accurate information on your credit report. If you do need help repairing your credit, The United States Department of Justice provides a list of approved credit counseling agencies.
Fake Charity Scams
There is no shortage of emotional appeals from people in need being shared across social media. These cries for help make us want to do just that, but unfortunately criminals are waiting to take advantage of people’s natural instincts to want to help someone in need. Scammers create fake websites or donation pages, and some even impersonate celebrities with charity organizations. Be especially on the lookout for these in the wake of a major tragedy or natural disaster. Just because a charity or cause is widely shared on social media, even by people you know and trust, doesn’t mean it’s legitimate.
Remember, if something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. Never give money or information to someone you don’t know. If someone contacts you requesting your card or account information and you’re not sure what to do, contact us at 478-923-3773.
Robins Financial Credit Union will never request your account information on social media. We will only contact you through one of our official social media 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.