With there now being an estimated 3.48 billion social media users globally, an increasing number of scammers are using these platforms to lure victims into parting with their personal information and data, or their money.
These scams are usually crafted in a way to convince the victim that they are genuine. For example, they might use official brand logos, professional websites and terms and conditions, and links for the user to enter their details.
However, these links can then send the information to third-parties. And they can also trigger the post to be shared on their page, sometimes with a status update, which will encourage the user’s friends and connections to do the same.
As the connections have seen what they believe is the person endorsing the link, they will then be much more likely to click on the link and enter their details too, as they feel as though it’s a trusted site.
So, what can consumers do to help protect themselves from these types of scams?
Here are some tips on how to spot and avoid them:
- As the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Often, scammers will use amazing offers and incentives to entice the user into clicking on the link. They will also give the appearance that they are a trusted, reputable company so that the user will feel like they can’t refuse the offer.
To avoid this, try searching for the promotion on a search engine. If the company itself is offering a deal on social media sites, then, most of the time, it will also be listed on their homepage.
- Another indication that the deal might not be legitimate is a suspicious URL.
Take a look at the URL to see if it matches the company’s website before you give any of your details. If it doesn’t match, then it could be a scam.
- Does the website’s branding look genuine?
If the link is to a brand you already know, take a look at the logos and design to see if there are any inconsistencies. Are they using the right logos? Does everything match? Is the finish to the standard you’re used to seeing from the company?
If it’s a brand you don’t know, take a look at their profile page to see if it looks professional. If it doesn’t it could be a scam.
- Check your social media account.
If you’re seeing a lot of users sharing the same status, this should ring alarm bells – especially if it’s exactly the same message. And if you’re not sure, try messaging your contacts to see if they posted the status themselves or if it was automatically published.