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How to Spot Social Media Scams and Keep Them Away From Your Wallet

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than one in four people who reported losing money to fraud in 2021 said it started on social media. This isn't surprising, considering the number of social media users who connect with friends, shop, and stay current on the daily news. In fact, the FTC data suggested that social media was far more profitable to scammers in 2021 than any other method of reaching people.

Yikes!

More scammers are using social media to target their victims because it's a low-cost way to reach billions of people from anywhere in the world. That, and online profiles are easily replicable.

Chances are, you've run across this situation a time or two already.

The FTC reported the top scam originating from social media in 2021 was online shopping. Other reports came from investment scams, romance scams, and other miscellaneous fraud.

By now, most online users are pretty alert to scams, but social media scams are sometimes hard to spot. Scammers can easily manufacture fake personas or hack into "friends" profiles preying on your trust.

Scammers use many methods of obtaining information about their targets. Still, most of the data used to create the connection are widely available on profiles or displayed in post captions, pictures, and videos. From there, scammers can create fake ads that target your interests and demographics. Now we can see how online shopping made up a whopping 45% of reports of money lost to social media scams in 2021.

Financial institutions often receive the first calls to deactivate accounts when outside fraudulent activity occurs. "We sympathize with our members because we know it's a vulnerable time," says Tamika, Member Support Representative for First Florida Credit Union.

While no one is immune to the devious attacks of social media scammers, you can employ ways to help you and your family stay safe:

  • Limit who can see your posts and information on social media.
  • Adjust your privacy settings to restrict the information you share with social media platforms.
  • Before purchasing from an ad link, search the company plus "scam" or "complaint" to see if anything turns up.
  • Make your purchase directly through the company's website instead of the ad link.
  • If you receive a message from a friend asking for money or asking you to click on a link, don't. There is usually something off about these messages, like spelling and grammar mistakes or it may seem unusual or out of character.
  • Hit pause if someone appears on your social media and rushes you to start a friendship or romance. Never send money to someone you haven't met in person.

First Florida Credit Union provides free online resources for fraud prevention through a Scam and Fraud Education (S.A.F.E) program. You’ll find up-to-date information on currently reported scams and best practices to defend yourself against fraud.