Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Scams
Social platforms let you interact with the rest of the world, but numerous seemingly anodyne games and quizzes can be traps laid by social media threat actors.
For instance, Facebook’s simple yet sometimes pointless questionnaires may not seem complex: Where were you born? What’s your favorite pet? Where did you get your first degree?
Millions of users take part in such online quizzes then share them with family and friends. But the answers are primarily used for security questions that criminals may use to beat security questions and access personal data. Notably, every answer gives cybercriminals additional ground to seizing your identity.
As such, it would help to know the different ways these individuals use to complete cyber threats, how you can avoid them, and the steps to take after a hack.
How Do Cybercriminals Facilitate Social Media Scams?
Currently, Facebook has more than 2.85 billion users. If this were a nation, it would have the highest population on the planet. WhatsApp and Instagram have over a billion active members, and Twitter and LinkedIn host over 300 million active users. And like any densely populated base, people are always trying to get away with different scams.
Here are the most commonly used social media scams.
One type of this scam impersonates Facebook and is among the most rapidly spreading. The scam message may inform you of a new pricing structure with different membership levels. In addition, you’re promised to be exempted from the payment by sharing the news before a specific deadline. Such scams spread because a user would think they’re doing their friends a favor. Instead, however, it’s a phishing attack that tricks users into providing private information.
Another common scam comes as an invitation to join a phony group with incentives like gift cards. You must share your passwords, financial data, or permissions with the platform. The technique may be old, but it’s surprisingly effective. The goal is to gather a group of friends or followers to be exploited in the future or collect credit card information.
Card Cracking Scams
This scam uses the easy-money tactic. Rather than making a check deposit, you’ll be requested to submit a PIN, online credentials for your bank account, or a debit card. After submitting access authorization, the scammer may wipe out your balance with a wire transfer. They may also use your account details to cover tracks of illegal transactions or transfer stolen funds.
Fake apps are increasingly targeting social media platforms, and most are designed to trick users into granting permissions and providing personal details to threat actors. They may also let scammers steal credit card information and passwords and access mobile devices. These apps are relatively smaller and usually request permissions to perform actions or access data.
Charitable Cause Scam
Social media scams in this category usually use emergencies and trending news items to request donations. They may come directly on social networks, as authentic-looking sites or crowdfunding websites. Ultimately, these funds will never reach those in need.
This scam comes as a ubiquitous like button on Facebook but is easy to abuse. When a user places it on their page, and another user visits the website and clicks on the button, their activity stream will link to your page. The next user receives a personalized button showing how many of their friends have liked it. They entice users to endorse specific products falsely, and the threat spreads via automatically generated likes and shares.
This scam occurs when a cybercriminal attaches user interface elements like an invisible button on a seemingly harmless webpage button. Functions such as the like button will be concealed beneath other buttons to prompt users to share something or voice their preference for an item unknowingly. This generates viral marketing and may be used to propagate malware.
How to Stay Safe from Social Media Scams
Social platforms have undeniable risks, but they present numerous opportunities for social interactions. Therefore, it’s understandable if you don’t intend to give up social media altogether. However, this means you have to take sensible precautions and safeguard your data and organization while getting the most from these social platforms.
Here’s how to keep yourself safe from threat actors on social networks:
- Secure your data – Consider the information you share online and avoid any information that can make someone easily impersonate you. Also, avoid sharing your business’ sensitive data or invitations to connect. Finally, consider limiting access to your social profile.
- Verify requests – Cybercriminals mostly pose as coworkers or familiar individuals to trick you into sharing data, clicking a link, or sending money. So make sure you pick up your phone and contact the individual to confirm whether they really sent the request in your inbox.
- It shouldn’t be too good to be true – Scammers trick social media users using goodies like gift cards and unique discounts for simple tasks. Anything that’s too good to be true demands a second thought because it probably is.
- Avoid impersonation accounts – Criminals sometimes create fake social media accounts and pages. So before you accept a connection request, confirm the true identity of the person.
- Avoid fake movies and live stream offers – Most of these posts have links to malware-distributing sites or those that request personal information. Always visit the specific event pages to be safe.
Steps to Take After a Social Media Account Hack
Curse, panic, or scream. All these responses may seem natural and reasonable. However, there are better steps to take to achieve long-term recovery. Let us explore:
- Change passwords – Immediately your account is hacked, the first step should be to change your password, including those of other platforms that can be accessed on the compromised device.
- Monitor credit – It’s also important to notify your credit card company or financial institution if such accounts have been hacked. You may have to acquire new cards with brand-new account numbers and request credit reporting agencies to monitor your bank account for any fraudulent transaction.
- Contact an IT expert – It’s also best to contact a reliable IT expert with years of experience in social network cybersecurity issues. They’ll help you recover your account and devise comprehensive plans to avoid future incidents.
- Report – If any of your information has been misused, be sure to report the incident to the relevant authorities, including IdentityTheft.gov.
Cybercriminals are constantly targeting personal and business social media pages, so you must always be prepared to beat the threats. Remember that threat actors can take their time, will likely not use your data right away.
Working with trusted IT partners can be the best move to secure your accounts and get the most from your audience on social media. Need help securing your online accounts or devices? Reach out to us today.