Who needs a class reunion when you can just catch up with old friends on Facebook? Social networking is a great way to connect with friends and colleagues. But it can also be a vehicle for potential criminals who use available personal information and social tools in an attempt to commit fraud.
From Facebook phishing lures to Twitter hoaxes, here are seven scams to avoid when connecting on social media.
- 419 scams. In this scam, a fraudster uses a hacked social media account to message someone in the victim's network. He or she will pose as the hacked individual and often claim to be stranded while traveling and need money to get home. You'll receive instructions to wire money, and the imposter often promises to pay you back upon his or her return. Always verify these requests by speaking directly to the person allegedly sending the message. If you can't contact him or her directly, verify what you're being told with friends or others who are close to the person in question.
- "Card-flip" scams. In this scam, an individual will reach out to members of a financial institution and offer so-called "legitimate" ways to make thousands in exchange for your account information. The person claims to know how to use your account information to cheat the system for big money and often may even ask you for a fee in addition to your personal information. The scammer will usually ask you to call or text a number to provide the information.
- See who views your profile! Sometimes you'll come across this claim along with a link either on a website or on a friend's Facebook page. While this scam preys on your desire to see who is checking your Facebook page, it doesn't actually do what it says. Instead, you'll likely be redirected to a survey page to collect information and possibly earn a commission for the scammer.
- Get a free gift card! You may also come across this scam while scrolling through your news feed. While it may sound reasonable for a retailer to be giving away gift cards in exchange for "likes," these offers are rarely legitimate. Instead, it's likely a phishing attempt to get your personal information.
- Earn thousands working from home! While work-from-home jobs do exist, they are generally found through companies themselves, not Twitter. Most of these online offers are nothing more than a scam that asks for a "starting fee" that you'll never see again.
- Your user account has been canceled. You may occasionally get emails claiming to be from sites like Facebook or Twitter informing you that your social media account has been canceled. They usually contain a link that you're asked to click to confirm or cancel your cancellation request. Instead, these links are used to install malware or phish for information. If you think an email may be legitimate, go to the social networking site directly to access your account. A similar scam sends emails asking you to confirm your email address for a site.
- Win a free iPad®! Some scammers will create a fake account with a financial institution or other business' name and logo, claiming to be hosting a giveaway. They may ask you to send a text message to a number or provide personal information to enter. Never follow these kinds of links if you're unsure of their origin. Visit the institution's official website and look for social media links there to verify that accounts are legitimate.
This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.
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