10 Social Media Scams to Look Out For

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Today’s guest blog is inspired by / related to the series of infographics about various social media scams that people (especially students and teachers) need to be aware of and look out for in order to be safe online.

Author bio: Elsie Weisskoff is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Siege Media. She writes on a variety of topics, from lifestyle to security. In her free time, you can find her soaking up the sunshine at the beach or exploring a local hike. 

These days, kids and parents alike frequent social media platforms. Facebook has reached 2 billion active users, Instagram has 1 billion and LinkenIn is gaining momentum with 590 million users. Americans have an average of 7.1 social media accounts. While these apps can connect us with friends and serve as a way to express ourselves, they also harbor security threats. 

Cybersecurity has become a big issue, especially with so many people sharing personal information on these social apps. To help you identify a threat on these apps, Panda Security has created a guide on social media scams and how to avoid them. Read through these 10 scams to be sure you know the tactics that scammers are using and how to avoid them.

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1. Lottery and Free Gift Card Scam

Ever seen an ad for a free gift card or a flashing banner that says you’ve 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.

social media lottery scam

They will ask for your information and you’ll end up getting charged in data fees. Another form of this scam will ask for your banking information so they can transfer the money, but instead they will steal from you.

2. Gossip Scam

People love gossip and sometimes their curiosity can get the best of them. Scammers know this and will use it to their advantage. 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.

social media gossip scam

3. Healthcare Scam

Healthcare is something that can be pricey but necessary. Scammers may use people’s need for healthcare to their advantage. You may be contacted with an offer for services such as a corrected social security card with the person’s married name, a social security card to replace a lost card, a social security statement or a social security number for a child.

These companies may have profiles that feature the Medicare logo to seem legitimate. They require a fee on offerings that someone can get from Social Security, free of charge.

social media healthcare scam

4. Catfishing

Many people use social media as a way to meet people. Unfortunately, scammers have taken this as an opportunity to con people who are looking for love. Catfishing is a type of online harassment in which someone creates a fake identity online for the purpose of starting a relationship. They then use this relationship and trust to scam people out of money.

social media catfishing scam

5. Photo of You Scam

People, especially kids, are very concerned about their reputation. How many likes they get and what comments they recieve can drastically influence their self confidence. One scam that plays on this insecurity is the photo of you scam.

In this scam, people receive a message in their Facebook inbox or Twitter messages saying something like “Have you seen this photo of you??” or “Is what this blog is saying about you true?” The message then links to a page that looks identical to the social media site and prompts you to log in. In this way, they are able to gain access to your account and have your login credentials as well.

social media photo of you scam

6. Account Cancelled Scam

If you are dependant on social media, getting a message saying that your account is being cancelled can be alarming. This happens primarily with Facebook. The person receives a message saying that their account will be disabled unless they take action. The scammer then requests that they either send the account information or login via a link they provide. This allows the scammer to steal sensitive information or scam more people through the account.

social media account cancelled scam

7. The 419 Scam or Nigerian Scam

This scam originated in Nigeria, but has been adopted by scammers all over the world.

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. To do this, they’ll request your banking information or ask you to pay the fees, charges or taxes.

social media nigerian scam

8. Stuck Abroad Scam

Many people travel on school trips to foreign countries. Scammers take advantage of this by hacking the account and then requesting money from those who are close to them. A friend or family member could message you saying, “I’m stuck in Paris and my wallet was stolen. Please send money!” They will then ask you to wire money.

social media stuck abroad scam

9. IQ Scam

Many platforms, especially Facebook, have featured an application where you can test your IQ. This plays on people’s need to prove their intelligence. Unfortunately, those who sign up are also subscribed to a text messaging service that’s an extra $30 a month.

social media IQ test scam

10. See Who Viewed Your Profile Scam

Another way that scammers will use your social standing is by persuading you to click a link to see who has viewed your profile. This link either directs you to a fake login page or to a survey that collects personal data which can be used against you or sold. 

social media see who viewed your profile scam
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Advice on Each of the Social Media Scams

social media scams
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As always, I'd love to hear from you.  Especially, I would be interested to hear stories of social media scams you know about (or may have unfortunately fallen victim of), if you have additional suggestions on how to stay safe online, or if you have other comments about this blog post!


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