It wasn’t too long ago if you said social media most people would have no idea what you were talking about. Fast forward to today, when you talk about social media most people know exactly what you’re talking about. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, more and more of us are using social media.
As more and more people use social media, unfortunately the scam artists are also following suit and have started to use social media as a way to implement their scams.
Over the last few weeks I have read a number of disturbing articles about people who have fallen victim to scams involving social media. These scams include identity theft and investment scams. Whatever the platform, the scam artists have determined that social media is fertile territory for scams. Because of this, when we use social media, we should never forget to keep our guard up.
I wish I could tell you how to avoid scams on social media, but I can’t. These scams are taking a number of different forms, and there is no one thing you can do to avoid them. However, like other types of scams where the crooks use emails or phone calls, being reasonable and using common sense is probably the best way of protecting yourself.
One scam that is happening more and more frequently is one that is known as phishing. Phishing is where scam artists do what they can to obtain your private personal information such as social security numbers, passwords and usernames. Once they have this information, they can wreak havoc on your finances.
The latest phishing scam uses Twitter. In this scenario, the scam artist steals a Twitter account and sends a message with a link that sends someone to a Twitter login page. Unfortunately, that Twitter login page is not actually hosted by Twitter, but rather by the scam artist. Therefore, when you enter your information, it doesn’t go to Twitter, it goes to the crooks. What makes the scam successful is the fact that the pages you link to look very legitimate; however, they are not.
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How do you avoid being taken advantage by a scam such as this? It’s difficult; however, the consequences of falling for a scam will make life even more difficult. The bottom line is you have to be very careful as to what you link to. Always remember when it comes to sensitive information, just because someone asks for it doesn’t mean you have to give it to them.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are also being used for investment scams. People are putting information on these sites touting all sorts of investments and ways to double or even triple your money without risk. It is amazing how many people fall for these scams.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a website, social media or someone at a cocktail party. The bottom line is that when someone starts touting all sorts of fantastic returns on an investment, that’s a sign you should walk away. Doing your homework and checking out an investment using multiple sources is a way to protect yourself.
I admit I don’t use social media; I am somewhat of a dinosaur. However, the reality is more and more people are using it and eventually I am sure I will as well. My advice if you are going to use social media is to take if for what it is and have fun with it; however, remember when you use it to never let your guard down.
Rick Bloom is a fee-only financial advisor. His website is www.bloomadvisors.com. If you would like him to respond to your questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.