Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other social media sites provide innovative ways to connect with friends, share recipes and even find your soulmate. Such sites are also a treasure trove for cybercriminals. Day in and day out crooks scan social media accounts to glean personal information. Their goal? Steal your identity and/or pilfer your bank accounts. Watch for these common scams:
- Twitter traps. You can use Twitter to make money from home by paying a small sign-up fee for a “Twitter Cash Starter Kit.” To purchase the kit, you need to provide a credit card number. Sound familiar? In another scam, you’re contacted by a “bot” (software that mimics a human being) pretending to give you access to a “pay-for- follower” service. If you take the bait, your bank or credit card information may be compromised. You could be accused of distributing spam and may be banished from the networking platform.
- Facebook cons. With more than two billion active monthly users, Facebook is a prime target for rip-off artists. One type of scam is called “catfishing.” The crook trolls the user base to find a victim, then begins establishing trust and building a relationship. Once an online “friendship” is in place, the crook agrees to meet the victim offline. Unfortunately, the “friend” needs travel funds or help with some other financial crisis. That’s when they ask you to provide the requisite funds, preferably via wire transfer.
- Snapchat hoaxes. You receive a message that your “memories” (photos) will be deleted unless you copy a message and share it with friends. The goal, of course, is to gain access to your online contacts and exploit them.
The above social media scams may sound alarming, but there are ways you can protect yourself and your personal data. Consider the following:
- Set privacy controls.
- Choose strong passwords.
- Use caution when sharing personal information online.
- Never send money or give credit card information to someone you don’t know.