Stay Safe from Social Media Scams
It’s no secret that scams tend to thrive on social media. Although social media allows us to stay connected with our family, friends, and colleagues, it can also be a feeding ground for fraud. While some scams may appear harmless and are easy to ignore, there are other scams that are much more sinister and important to avoid so you can keep your information safe and out of the wrong hands. Protect yourself by learning the red flags of these common social media scams.
A newer form of scam we’ve been seeing involves celebrity social media profiles, or so it seems. In most cases, it’s actually a scammer posing as said celebrity. Even if the celeb appears to be live streaming a video on social media, those can be faked and manipulated. There are several variations on these scams, most often the “celebrity” will post on social media requesting money from fans, either for themselves, for another person, or for donations to a charity. They may even claim to be giving away exclusive event or concert tickets, or hosting a big cash giveaway. While there are celebrities that do give back and raise money for good causes, it’s critical to do a little bit of digging and use your best judgement before giving information or money to anyone, no matter how “famous” they may supposedly be. Never send money, gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or wire transfers to anybody you don’t know and trust. And never share your financial account information with anyone, especially your Digital Banking login credentials, even if it appears to be a celebrity urging their followers to share this information to win a cash giveaway.
Payment App Scams
Another social media scam we’ve been seeing more and more often involves popular peer-to-peer payment apps, such as CashApp, Venmo, and PayPal. As we mentioned with celebrity scams, celebrities and influencers may host online cash giveaways for their followers. Again, these are most often scammers and not the actual person. The influencer or celeb will encourage their followers to share their handle for these payment apps and claim that they will send hundreds or even thousands of dollars to select lucky followers. But then, the celeb/influencer who is actually a scammer will request that the follower send a small amount of cash to them first as a “verification fee.” If you are sent any messages with a request for a verification fee and a link, this is a phishing scam intended to steal your credentials.
There have also been reports of scammers contacting someone who shared their payment app handle on social media, then requesting that the person provide information for their actual financial institution account instead so that they can deposit the money directly into their account. They may request information such as your financial account number, security questions and answers, Digital Banking login credentials, and Secure Access Codes. If anyone requests this information from you, it is always a scam. If you give someone else this information, you are giving them full access to your account, and there is nothing stopping them from wiping out all of your funds. Never under any circumstances share your financial account information with anyone.
You’ve probably seen those chain posts that frequently circulate on social media as fun “getting to know you” posts. But you may not realize that the information these “games” encourage you to share are actually information commonly used for security questions and answers, intended for account protection and password recovery. These posts may ask for information like the name of the street you grew up on, your children or pet’s names, your mother’s maiden name, the year you were born, the last digits of your cell phone number, the first concert you went to, and so on. While these type of posts may seem harmless, it’s not fun and games when this information falls into the wrong hands. Cybercriminals can use this information to gain access to your accounts, so you’re safer avoiding these types of posts altogether.
Job Offer and Investment Scams
With these scams, you may see posts or be contacted by a potential employer, investor, or someone seeking an influencer partnership. Or you may be contacted and encouraged to invest in a company, sometimes even by re-selling their products. Any posts you come across on social media or messages you receive claiming guaranteed profits, huge, returns on a small investment, or abnormally high salary should raise an immediate red flag. While there are plenty of legitimate remote work offers, always be wary of promises of a salary that seems astronomical when compared to the work you would be doing. Don’t be tricked into blindly paying for starter kits or sending money to strangers no matter how good the opportunity sounds. And never let yourself be pressured by claims of a limited-time offer. If something seems too good to be true, it almost always is.
There are still various sweepstakes, lottery, and prize scams that occasionally pop up on social media. These scams notify you of a large sum of money or other awesome prize you’ve won, but then will ask you for a fee or payment in order to claim your winnings. The payment is usually requested via wire transfer. These scams have a very clear red flag: If you never entered a contest, there’s no way you could have won. Ignore any messages on social media claiming that you’ve won some sort of prize if you know you haven’t entered to win anything.
We all know about catfishing, where someone pretends to be someone else online, often with the intention of pursuing and developing relationships, but romance scams take this impersonation one step further. These scams are carried out with the intent to cause emotional as well as financial devastation. Though forming a relationship and building trust may take some time, these scammers are in it for the long con. Once trust is established, the scammer will begin to ask for money, possibly claiming it is needed for a flight to come visit you or to repair their car that broke down, to help them with bills, or to help them out of some other fictitious situation. These stories can become quite outlandish and drawn out as a means to justify continued requests for more money. If you agree to pay the first time, the scammer will continue to come up with new reasons to request money until you either realize that this is a scam, or have no money left to give. Once their requests are finally denied or the financial well has run dry, the love interest disappears. Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person without verifying their identity. If they refuse to meet you in person or even speak by phone or video chat, tell them you are uncomfortable sending them money. If they are persistent, end your communication with them.
Fake Charity Scams
A particularly awful form of social media scam is fake charity scams. These tend to pop up in the wake of a major tragedy, natural disaster, or other unfortunate event, and offer opportunities to donate to a charity in need of support. However, scammers prey on our natural instincts to help those in need, and create fake websites or donation pages to collect funds for their own heinous uses. Always verify a charitable organization directly from their website, and rely on compiled lists of credible non-profits rather than following links from social media posts.
Please remember, you should never provide your financial account number, Digital Banking login ID or password, Secure Access Codes, debit or credit card information, or any other account details to anyone under any circumstance.
Robins Financial Credit Union will never contact you via social media to request account information. Always remember that if something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. Never give money or personal information to someone that you don’t know and trust. If you suspect your account information has been compromised, report it to us immediately.
The safety and security of our members is a top priority. Protecting your information works best when we have your help. Let’s work together to keep your accounts protected. To learn more about how we protect our members every day and how you can protect yourself, review our Security and Fraud information online, and watch our Scams and Fraud playlist on YouTube.