Social Media Scams 2020
Maybe you’ve seen something in your news feeds like a celebrity’s death, videos of riots, an announcement from the government—all apparently legitimate news stories. However, they turned out to be some fake news.
As of the first quarter of 2020, Facebook has reported that it has 2.6 Billion monthly active users. Twitter has 330 million monthly active users as of 2019. Because of this, there are lots of scammers lurking in social medias. Scammers will try to entice you into clicking by posting a clickbait stories; sometimes exploiting on a recent news event, or making up a fake, shocking news story. The motives are the same; scammers try to exploit these stories for any kind of financial gain possible.
There are several different types of strategies scammers will use to try to lure you into taking the bait: imitating victims or family members of a tragic event; selling items while claiming the proceeds go to charity; or by posting photos and videos of the event.
- 1 Think Before You Click
- 2 Ways to Spot a Fake News
- 3 Top 12 Social Media Scams
- 4 Chain Posts/Messages
- 5 Cash Grabs
- 6 Extra Charges
- 7 Lottery and Free Gift Card Scam
- 8 Phishing Requests
- 9 IQ Scam
- 10 Hidden URLs
- 11 Gossip Scam
- 12 Catfishing
- 13 Account Cancelled Scam
- 14 The 419 Scam or Nigerian Scam
- 15 See Who Viewed Your Profile Scam
Think Before You Click
Before filling up a survey with your information or sharing a post/tweet, make sure that it is from a legitimate source. The survey could gather sensitive personal information that could be use in phishing attacks or identity theft. In addition to collecting sensitive data, the scammers will also earn money per completed survey and in turn, will sell that information to other scammers.
Sometimes the scam is not always a survey. Some scammers use video sometimes and to view it, you should download a plugin first, which turns out to be a malware in disguise, usually a form of spyware that is then installed on the user’s computer that will track and collect information such as bank accounts, Social Security numbers and anything else that can be used in attempting identity theft.
Aside from trying to install malware on your computer, scammers have other objectives sometimes like links redirecting you to adult websites or spam sites in an attempt to boost web traffic, or to install malicious Facebook applications that can steal your personal data.
Ways to Spot a Fake News
Be cynical. Just because someone posted it in social media, doesn’t necessarily mean it is true. Sometimes, your friends may have fallen victim to the scam and are not aware of it; scammers using clickjacking could have hijacked their account.
Always check the link before clicking. You can do that by either hovering over the link or looking directly below the link itself on the Facebook post, which shows the referring website’s URL. Only visit known and trusted websites.
Be very suspicious when there is a call to action before being able to view the content. Moreover, actions such as having to share the media before viewing, requests to take a survey or download additional software are all huge red flags.
What to Do If You Fall for the Scam
Sometimes you need to experience the mistake before learning the lessons. Here are some steps you can take to fix the damage and minimize the spreading.
- Get rid of the spam from your feed, so no other people fall victim to the scam.
- Change your password immediately.
- If you were deceived into installing an app, immediately remove it.
- Run a virus scan.
- Create a post on your feed notifying friends of the scam, informing them not to click on anything strange or unusual coming from your profile.
- Report the scam to Facebook or Twitter, depending on where the content is posted.
Top 12 Social Media Scams
You’ve likely seen this one before – the dreaded chain letter has returned. And no, it’s not 7 years of misfortune this time (although there are still chain messages like this). This time it could appear like this, “Retweet this and you will get $1 million from Bill Gates!”
The purpose of chain posts is just to spread fake news and make fun of others.
You might have experienced an urgent request from one of your friends who might lost his/her wallet and/or phone while on vacation and needed some money right away to come home. So being the helpful friend you are, you immediately sent a money.
But here’s the problem: Your friend never sent this request. In fact, he/she isn’t even aware of it. His malware-infected computer grabbed all of his contacts and forwarded the bogus email to everyone, waiting who would bite the bait.
Again, think before acting. Call your friend. Inform him of the request and see if it’s true. Next, make sure your computer isn’t infected as well.
“What type of POTATO are you? Find out!” and you being too bored at home, enter your info as instructed and found out a minutes later that you are a potato marble, small but terrible.
That’s interesting…but not until you see your bill with an extra charge for the quiz you’ve
Lottery and Free Gift Card Scam
Oftentimes there are posts on social media claiming to give out free phones or GC’s from popular stores like Zalora, Lazada, eBay, or Amazon because you won the lottery. When you click on them, you’re taken to a site that asks you to enter your information to claim your winnings. The information they ask for may vary. They could ask for your phone number to secretly charge you in data fees. A ”lottery” post may require your banking information in order to wire you money, which they end up stealing from you instead.
“Wait, is this you?” and it’s a teaser of a rated-x photo or video. You looked at it immediately and took you to your social media login page, and when you enter your details, the phishing attack is done.
How did that happen? Find out here: All About Phishing And What You Should Do If You’re A Victim Of It
You don’t need to prove your intelligence, especially in a quiz on Facebook. So what if your friend’s IQ is 300? Unfortunately, there are still people who fall from this scam. Some of those who signed up were also subscribed to a text messaging service that was an extra $30 a month.
Beware of blindly clicking on shortened URLs. You’ll see them everywhere on your social media but you never know where you’re going to go since the URL hides the full location. Clicking on such a link could direct you to your intended site, or one that installs all sorts of malware on your computer.
URL shorteners can be quite useful. Just be aware of their potential pitfalls and make sure you have real-time protection against spyware and viruses.
Have your ever seen an ad like this: “Secret about the Royal Families!” or “The North Korean Dictator must already be dead, and these are the proofs!” This type of scam plays on people’s fascination with celebrity news or the latest news.
When the person clicks, they are taken to a page that tells them to download the latest Adobe Flash. Instead of downloading this program, it is a bot Trojan or other malware, spyware or ransomware.
With an increase in social interaction online comes an increase in relationships that were built through social media, especially this time of crisis where most of the places are on lockdown.
Scammers have taken this as an opportunity to ploy people who are looking for love.
For Safe Online Dating, read this: Online Dating 2020: Safety Tips And Protecting Your Privacy
Account Cancelled Scam
Another phishing scheme that has become common on Facebook is a message or email that claims to be from Facebook warning that your account will be disabled unless you take action.
The scammer requests that you either send your account information to them or login via a link they provide. The scammer can then steal sensitive information or scam more people through your account.
The 419 Scam or Nigerian Scam
In this scam, someone abroad is offering you a share in a large sum of money for helping them transfer the money out of their country, sounds like money laundering, right? To do this, they’ll request your banking information or ask you to pay the fees, charges or taxes. This originated in Nigeria, but has been adopted by scammers all over the world.
See Who Viewed Your Profile Scam
This scheme persuades a person to click on a link, where they are either directed to a fake login page to a survey that collects personal data that can be used against you or sold.
Bottom line: We spend so much time on social media that’s why it’s important to be aware of these potential scams.
Sites that attract a significant number of visitors are going to lure in a criminal element for sure. Take security precautions and be sure to think before you click so you can defend yourself against these dangers and surf with confidence.