As a society, we’ve all been captivated by social media. Many people find themselves scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, and other social media sites unaware of the thousands of Social Media Scams Stealing Accounts across the world. How can anyone avoid these scary scams that steal personal information, images, and even people’s identities?
We’ve discussed 5 Online Scams To Watch Out For, which included internet scams from phishing to fake websites and more. Scammers are clever enough to attack others based on demographics like age and location. Older generations seem more vulnerable to online and phone scams either requesting money or asking for too much information. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 2021 consumers reported over $392 million in online shopping fraud, which spanned over ages 18 to 80. Despite news outlets and educational seminars discussing internet fraud and scams, people are still falling prey.
Social Media Scams
Scrolling through social media apps has quickly become a leisurely activity, whether people are in line waiting, grocery shopping, or sitting at home. We’re noticing many adverse effects of too much social media. This includes our social skills, sleep patterns, and relationships. Social Media Scams are also causing adverse effects as our social and bank accounts are feeling the heat.
Social media’s demographics vary, but the age group of 18-39 takes the largest hit by scammers. After all, these ages grew up with the internet and social media. Google launched in 1998 which means the majority of the 18-39 age group from 16 and older have learned on and with the internet and Google. According to the FTC, social media users lost near $607 million this year as of June 30th. Users reported that social media was the number one contact method for personal scam attempts. Let’s focus on the top social media sites: Instagram, Facebook, and Tiktok.
LEARN: Fraud Report
Instagram quickly became popular, ranking number two on social media platforms, next to its sister company Facebook. It has over 1 billion accounts with over 500 million daily active users. With Instagram’s success comes many downfalls, including various scams. Instagram scams seem to flood users daily from comments and personal DM’s (direct messages) to unknown tagging.
Love is in the air according to Instagram scammers! Online dating is a huge social media influence. Dating apps are common and couples are finding love all over the internet and social media. With Instagram, users receive likes and comments on their pictures. Scammers continue to build the relationship through DM’s, eventually creating a love relationship. Once the social media scammer gains their victim’s trust, they ask for money for bills, travel, health, etc. Many victims cave and once the funds are deposited, the scammer moves on.
Instagram continually focuses on productive and lucrative business approaches. Businesses started selling products on Instagram, even having pages users follow to suggest products. Unfortunately, scammers took full advantage of this and created fake merchandise pages, taking social media scamming to another level. Buyers would either never receive the product and never get their money back, or buyers would receive merchandise that was not as advertised. This scam added to the FTC online shopping scams we mentioned earlier.
This is probably the hottest scam going around Instagram. I’ve personally seen friends and family members suffer from lost accounts, images, money, and regret. The slimy scammers target an already scammer user’s friend list. They send multiple messages about needing account verification or password help. The friend is a good pal and tries to help out. However, the link they are receiving is a link for resetting their own account for the hacker to access. Instagram will never DM any users for account verifications. These hackers will then harass the user for money before they give the account back.
DISCOVER: More On Instagram Scams
Facebook users have a larger age demographic than Instagram. Facebook is the number one ranking social media app and the number one searched website on Google. Although the previous scams still can happen on Facebook, scammers are using other ways to steal personal information and money from users.
Marketplace is a tool Facebook has for selling and buying items from other Facebook users. It’s a virtual yard sale. The scam comes once the buyer (scammer) contacts the seller and sends money through a cash transfer app like Zelle, PayPal, Venmo, or others. However, once the scammer deposits the funds, they send the seller a notification claiming they need to send an added amount to upgrade to a “business account,” but of course, that’s not true.
The housing market is crazy and people are struggling to find places to live. Social media Facebook scammers target rental ads for their scams. They list a place for rent, using photos and descriptions of real properties they randomly found. They convince the potential renter that they need to place the first and last month’s rent to secure the unit or home. They suggest a deposit of some form to gain or view the unit. However, the scammer always has an emergency and delays the agreement. Meanwhile, they ask for additional funds or personal information where they can steal identities and more money. The rental property is fake, so it’s a hard lesson for the potential renter.
Tiktok is a new, trendy social media app that focuses on videos and sounds for user engagement. It’s changed the way Instagram and Facebook also target users. There’s been funny Tiktok challenges, sing-a-longs, and even educational videos. However, this social media app gained its audience through silly dances. Since it’s the newest app, its audience is younger than Facebook and Instagram.
Catfishing is when someone creates a fake account to manipulate followers/fans/friends.
These scammers use videos and posts to pretend to be someone they aren’t. They ask for money, account verification, etc. Catfishing combines previous social media scams with identity theft.
How to Avoid Social Media Scams
Social media sites all state that they will never send you a personal message through their site or apps. They will only contact you through direct emails and those emails will not redirect you to any third-party apps or websites. Instagram, Facebook, and Tiktok are all free to sign up and keep an account. The only time they will require any payment is when you are looking to advertise with them. Facebook has an in-depth advertisement opportunity and uses Instagram as a synced advertisement opportunity.
You can spot fake accounts or social media scammers when their accounts are new, have no posts or followers, or if their messages are poorly written. We suggest using common sense, but when in doubt, do your research. If you’re concerned about a fraudulent account or activity, you can report the accounts to each social media site you’re using.
Keep in mind that frequent password changes can help you avoid hackers and scammers. We also recommend that you always set up two-factor authentication. Curious what that is? Check out our previous article: What Is Two Factor Authentication. You’ll learn how it can help protect you and your social media accounts.
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