A common stereotype is that Facebook and Instagram are social media platforms for “old people.” But, as a recent Federal Trade Commission Report (FTC) demonstrates, younger people are becoming the biggest victims of social media scams. For example, consumers aged 18-39 reported 2.4 times more social media fraud than those aged 40+ (TechRadar.pro, Sead Fadilpasic, Social media scams hit a new high in 2021, January 28th, 2022, https://www.techradar.com/news/social-media-scams-hit-a-new-high-in-2021). Another glaring statistic is social media scams increased 1800% over similar types of losses reported in 2017. To put those numbers into context, consumers reported $770 million in social media scams in 2021 to the agency. Unfortunately, social media scams are infiltrating every age group, and the most frequently used social media platforms for scammers are Facebook and Instagram (Investopedia, Jim Probasco, Huge Surge in 2021 Social Media Scams, Says FTC, January 27, 2022, https://www.investopedia.com/social-media-scams-surging-5217274). One way to protect yourself and your computer network from social media scams is to learn what they look like so you can steer clear of them. In this blog, we’ll highlight a couple of common social media scams as it relates to your computer network. If you want to dive deeper to learn more about social media scams, click on the sources used in this blog post.
70% of Social Media Scams Involve Cryptocurrency Investments
The majority of these social media scams involved bogus cryptocurrency investments, romance scams, and shopping fraud. These three categories account for 70% of the social media scams in the FTC report. Last month we wrote a blog titled “Cryptocurrency Risks for Beginners” which highlights some cryptocurrency risks. But for this blog, we would like to highlight a couple of examples of the other 30% of social media scams that made it into the FTC report, namely email phishing and clickbait scams. Email phishing and clickbait scams can lead to financial fraud, malware compromising your computer network, and ransomware. And RB’s Computer Service offers strategies to help prevent them (Investopedia, Jim Probasco, Huge Surge in 2021 Social Media Scams, Says FTC, January 27, 2022, https://www.investopedia.com/social-media-scams-surging-5217274).
Email Phishing and Clickbait Social Media Scams Can Be Prevented
Email phishing and clickbait’s main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page. One reason email phishing and clickbait social media scams are so effective is inherent to social media itself, which encourages interaction, and another reason is that both legit sources and cybercriminals use eye-catching and highly suggestive pictures to encourage your interaction. Some people click into a cybercriminals domain simply because they think everyone is doing it, or because the content looks legit. Consider the examples below provided by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
“Zach” checked his social media feed and saw a post titled, “See backstage photos from last night’s concert!!” He “clicked” on the post and a new window opened that instructed him to “click” a link to update his photo viewer. After Zach “clicked” the link, his antivirus software told him that it had blocked an attempt to install a virus on his computer. He immediately logged out of his account, closed his browser, and scanned his computer using his antivirus software. The scan found no threats, so Zach logged back into his social media account and changed his password and security questions.
Email Phishing Scams:
“Tim” received an email that said it was from his favorite social media website. The email said that his account had been locked and asked him to “verify” his account by clicking a link. After he clicked on the link, Tim was forwarded to a webpage that looked very similar to the social media website. The webpage directed Tim to enter his username and password to verify and unlock his account. He entered this information before realizing he was on the wrong website. Tim then contacted the social media website at the email address listed on its real webpage, and it helped him recover his account (Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Online Publications, Social Media Scams).
Don’t take the “bait.” Never click on pop-up messages or posts that contain content that seems shocking, scandalous, or too good to be true, or links or attachments in unsolicited emails and text messages (Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Online Publications, Social Media Scams). Some other social media scams include impersonation scams, quizzes and polls, sweepstakes and lottery scams, and work at home and other money-making schemes. Even if you try to steer clear of social media scams, cybercriminals are pitching them in a very personalized way, and they look legit. As a result, some of the savviest computer users are getting dupped. To protect yourself from an accidental click, make sure the computers on your network are using anti-virus software and consider adding a commercial-grade router with a large spectrum of security capabilities. In the above examples from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, the potential victims had a line of defense with their anti-virus software. Unfortunately, the computer virus victims that come into RB’s Computer Service usually don’t or are using an outdated version of anti-virus software. Almost none have a commercial-grade router with a large spectrum of security capabilities.
In addition to helping protect your computer network from social media scams, RB’s Computer Service offers ransomware protection strategies, managed IT services, and malware removal. If you need help protecting your computer network from social media scams, setting up a ransomware strategy, or malware removal, contact us today via phone or email: 763-441-3884, email@example.com.