If you’re a social media junkie, make sure you don’t get caught out by these common tricks.
Since the rise of global pandemic in 2020, 45 million active social media users were recorded in the UK, equating to 66% of the (UK) population. This is due to the majority of people spending more time indoors using digital devices and social media platforms than ever before.
Scammers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable with how we spend our time online and are coming up with even more ingenious way to get their hands on your hard earned cash. Here at Hitachi Personal Finance, we've pulled together some of the most common and up to date scams on social media today to help keep you safe online.
Fake social media adverts
With the rise of online businesses, fraudsters are now using targeted advertising to try and get hold of your money.
Scammers are creating social media accounts and then pay to have their fake message advertised to you in your timeline in the hopes that it will pass as a legitimate product or service.
Whenever you see new companies, organisations or brands pop up on your feed, make sure to do your homework and check out them out by visiting their website, reading reviews on independent review sites and comments left my previous customers.
Beware of the catfish
People aren’t always who they seem on social media, so it’s important to always be wary and on the lookout for ‘catfish’; or imposters posing as other people, with malicious intentions.
The best way to avoid this risk is to simply avoid getting into conversations with ‘strangers’ online, only accept friend requests from people you actually know, and never send money or personal details to people you haven’t met before.
Location, location, location
Location tagging can be a very dangerous thing to do on social media. Certain mobile phones and cameras can also add location information to the image file, which can reveal the location of your home, work or even your current location.
Opportunists can use this information to see when you're not at home and learn your routine to plan a burglary or theft from your property.
Many people don’t know this, so it’s important to check this in your settings to make sure your location isn’t being shared without your knowledge.
Do a background check
Always double check your photos to make sure there’s nothing in the background that could reveal your location, or any personal details that you wouldn’t want to share with scammers.
Remember, people can easily zoom in and clarify your photographs, so if you have financial documents on the table in the background, for example, scammers will be able to get your personal details from these.
SMS and WhatsApp scams
Scams on social media aren’t just confined to platforms like Twitter and Facebook anymore, but have spread to SMS and instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
Often these scams are very similar to the social media scams where they are offering too good to miss promotional deals, competitions and discounts for your favourite retailers but in fact the link they want you to click on will direct you to a fraudulent website where you will asked to provide your personal data.
Whenever you get these messages, it's best to just delete it.
Friend or Faux?
With the lack of filters on social media, scammers are often able to set up fake pages and competitions that may look real. A common example is fake holiday competitions encouraging you to click through to a website, where a fraudster may try to infect your device with malicious software.
The branding of these fake competitions often looks identical to the official pages, but the number of followers or page likes they have will more often be much lower than the official page. If ever you’re unsure, carry out a separate search to see if the deal or competition shows up on the brand’s official channels or website.
Never click on any links you’re suspicious of and be very wary about entering personal details on any link you’ve clicked through on social media.
Phishing is still one of the most common ways for scammers to get hold of your personal and financial information, and with the current situation, they are taking full advantage.
Whenever you receive an email portraying itself to be from a well-known company or organisation e.g. Netflix, DVLA, PayPal, etc, always make sure to check the email address it has been sent from. Fraudster can amend the display name to look exactly like the company they are pretending to be, but the email address is likely to free account such as Gmail, Hotmail, Live, etc – most organisations (expect maybe small start-ups) will have their own personalised email domain.
Other things to keep an eye out for is when the email has been addressed to “customer” and not your actual name, along with spelling and grammatical mistakes. As a high number of these emails come from overseas, they may be using a translation service so the actual text, doesn’t make sense.
Whenever you receive an email, never click on the link and instead delete it straight away. If you’re still unsure whether it’s legit, give the company a call using the details from their website to confirm.
Keep it private
Take some time to familiarise yourself with the privacy settings of social media platforms you like to use. For most people who use social media to connect and interact with friends and family, keeping your accounts on private is generally the best option. This will ensure that whatever content and information you upload will only be seen by those you have listed as a ‘friend’.
It’s also worth a regular review of your friends list from time to time, to ensure you haven’t accidentally added someone you don’t know.
Victoria Fieldhouse, Financial Crime Expert at Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance, commented:
"Unfortunately scams are ever on the increase, and criminals look to obtain our personal information from various sources including social media and phishing emails and texts. They then use this to commit a variety of frauds and scams.
Everyone needs to be alert and vigilant with the information they share. Remember always take time to assess the situation and if it makes sense. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Take Five is a national fraud campaign that offer impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud. I would encourage everyone to visit their website and read through the advice."