People are sociable and the rise of social media and networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and many more are a testimony to how much we want to share and be open with others.
But there is a dark side to this as there are a lot of people who see this as an opportunity to take from others to get what they want.
The Most Common Social Media Scams
1. Profile Page Hacks
If your password can be guessed, then you may find your profile page has been hacked. The hackers can install malicious code or they can use your ID for sending out spam messages or contacting your friends with virus laden extras to download.
You need to have strong passwords for all of the sites you have registered with.
Refer to blog post http://fightback.ninja/how-to-keep-your-passwords-safe/ for details on how to set strong passwords
If your profile or your identity are in any way compromised, you should also inform the site operator ad if you have lost money to the scammers or there are threats then tell the police.
There are huge volumes of emails sent out in the hope of enticing someone to either enter their account details in the email or to click a link that goes to a fake website claiming to be a business you have registered with but instead it just collects your account details as you key them in. Then the scammers have your login and password and can use your account.
This is called phishing and also takes place on social media.
For any messages you get, you must read them carefully and not click on a link just because you recognise the message sender. If your friends account has been hacked (as above) then the message could well have malicious content.
3. Shortened URLs
The URL is the internet address for a webpage and often these can be long names so there are shortening services on the Internet to let you send a much shorter URL but it will still work to get you to the original website address.
Twitter uses shortened URLs to save on filling up your character allocation. But scammers also use these shortened URLs to hide the actual web address they want you to click on.
So, you have to be careful before clicking on a shortened URL and make sure you have adequate protection on your devices to trap any malicious web pages before you get to them.
4. Malware i.e. Viruses, Ransomware and More
Facebook and some other social networking sites allow for installation of 3rd party APPS. Most of these are harmless but scammers can create these APPS and attempt to have you download them. They may send you a message that looks to be from a friend or the site owners telling you to download a specific APP.
These can in some cases send your account information etc to the scammers or may monitor your activities and wait for you to use your credit card on the site.
Do not trust 3rd party APPS unless you are sure they are OK.
5. Games and Quizzes
On Facebook, you are get requests to join in with multi-player games. Some of these are very good games and often free or have charges only when you request specific extras in the game. However, some are scams and the advert you may receive for a famous free game may in fact take you to download a different game that charges your credit card unknowingly.
This can also happen when you are invited to take part in one of the many quizzes that are popular on Facebook.
6. Fake Help Requests
Scammers do sometimes go to a lot of trouble to watch people’s behaviour online and note when someone is on holiday or business overseas. Then they can send desperate messages to the parents or partners of that person claiming to be in trouble, been mugged or needing lifesaving medical care or anything to get an immediate response of sending money.
If you receive such a desperate message – then do check its validity before sending money.
7. Activity Information
For many people, being open on social media about their activities, purchases, visits etc. is what it’s all about. But there are people who read that kind of information and piece together details about your life from whatever sources they can find on the Internet.
Then they can use that against you.
e.g.1. I’m off to India for 2 weeks on Tuesday. Have left the dog at Uncles.
This tells the criminals that your house will be unoccupied for 2 weeks. If they can find your address on the Internet then that could be trouble.
e.g. 2. Just back from last night’s party – was drunk in the gutter and taken in by the Police. See picture taken by friends.
This could be very embarrassing if you’re going job hunting as prospective employers may read your social networking entries.
How to Stay Safe on Social Media
Social Media is incredibly popular and many of us are used to just posting or tweeting anything we like. That’s what social media is for.
BUT, there are unscrupulous people who take advantage of that openness. Scammers.
You should take general precautions – i.e. have appropriate anti-virus and anti-malware on your computer and keep it up to date.
Then it’s a question of taking care that anything you put on social media cannot be used against you or anyone else. Following these points below can help:-
· Check the privacy and security settings on your social media accounts and set them appropriately.
· Set strong passwords (at least 8 characters long and including capitals, numbers and symbols)
· Be careful with links and files. If you’re not sure about the source, then don’t download or click on the link. Hackers will sometimes post links in comments to try and trick you into clicking them.
· Be aware that your posts may affect others and they may take offence where you wouldn’t or not want their private information online. So be considerate.
· Be wary of add-ons. Many games and add-ons are created by third party companies and may not be as safe as you assume. Be wary of any extra permissions that an APP requires.
· Be careful who you follow or friend. You may want to have hundreds of friends, but does it really mean anything?
· Periodically, try a Google search on your name – to see what personal information is available.
· Never log in from public hotspots. Some social networking sites don’t have a secure login (https), so your user name and password could be copied. Only log in from trusted wireless networks.
· Remember: If you wouldn’t say it or do it in public, don’t post it online.
· Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents, partner or employer to see.
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