Social media – there is no escaping it. Over time, it has become a way of life, from humble beginnings as a platform
for friends and family to keep in touch, social media is now a complex system that allows all to interact on a personal level from consumers and companies to groups and governments.
It is estimated that there will be around 2.77 billion social media users around the globe by 2019. With that many users, it’s no surprise that social media is a hotbed for cyber criminals.
Here are five of the most common social media scams that you could possibly fall prey to.
1. Chain Letters
Just like the dreaded chain letter you used to receive in the mail, the chain letter has returned in the form of social sharing.
“Share this post and Bill Gates will donate $5 million to charity” or “Every like and $5 will be donated to charity”. These are typically ‘like farmers’ or a spammer looking for ‘friends’ to hit up later. Many well-meaning people continue to share their posts and pass these fake claims onto others. Break the chain and leave it.
2. Cash Grabs
Social media allow us to stay in touch with friends and family, but occasionally you may receive an email or direct message from a friend who ‘lost their wallet on holidays and needs some cash to get home’ – you drop everything to help as per their instructions, when in fact your friend never sent this request and is a bulk-email sent from their malware-infected computer. The easiest solution is to ring your friend directly, inform them of the request, then ensure your computer isn’t infected as well.
3. Hidden Charges
The quizzes that pop up on your feed asking “What type of friend are you?” or
“Personality tracker” – all your friends are taking the quiz, all you need to do is enter your information including your email and/or phone number. You may have unwittingly subscribed to a service that charges or spams you.
4. Phishing Requests
“Check out this video I found of you online” Click the link and check it out – you follow the link and you’re asked to log in to your social media. Now the cyber criminal has your password and total control of your account. How did this happen? Both the email and landing page were fake. That link you clicked took you to a page that only looked like your intended social site. It’s called phishing, and you’ve just been had. To prevent this, make sure your Internet security includes antiphishing defences. Many freeware programs don’t include this essential protection.
5. Hidden URLs
Shortened URLs, particularly on Twitter are common place, and while many times clicking on a shortened link will take you to the website you wish to go, it could be a link 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. Bottom line: Sites that attract a significant number of visitors are going to lure in a criminal element, too. If you take security precautions ahead of time, such as using antivirus and anti-spyware protection, you can defend yourself against these dangers and surf with confidence.