Do you use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pintrest, Instagram, or other social media sites? What about internationally-focus social media sites such as Orkut, QQ, and Badoo? You or those you socialize with on this sites will be a target of a scammer sooner or later.
Many of the most effective scams are targeted to you personally from the information publicly available on your profile, typically you will get an unsolicited communication that matches your published interests or that is very effective at getting your attention by claiming some sort of emergency or a need for immediate action.
That scammer wants to make you to click that link before you have a chance to think and be skeptical.
Be very cautious when you get any of the following:
- A message from someone, particularly a close friend or relative saying they’ve been robbed, they’re being held by foreign authorities, or otherwise have an immediate need for money to be wired to them. This is particularly common when that individual is known to be out of the country.
- A message that you have won something, particularly when it says you have to act immediately to claim your prize
- A friend request from someone you’ve never seen before, especially some stranger with the looks of a model or someone who may have the same interests as you have posted
- A message about an account cancellation
- A message about a charge you didn’t authorize
- Anything that looks like humorous content but that requires you to click a link to see it
- Any request to install an app to get at desirable content
In many cases these are difficult to tell from legitimate messages, so you need to take a moment and think
- Does this make sense?
- Do I know this person and did I expect something like this from them?
- Is this totally out of character for my friend – could their account have been hacked?
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Remember, social media can place no obligations on you, you don’t have to respond to every message, friend request, alert, or notice. You can always take the time you need to sort things out before making a snap decision to click that “Accept” button or that web link.
I’ll have additional postings over the course of this month, including what to do when you think you may have fallen for a scam or clicked that link that didn’t seem quite right. I’ll also detail certain specific threats and scams to help you be more informed about them in the future.
In the meantime you may want to review these sites of interest on this topic:
11 Tips for Social Media Safety
Scams and Social Media
15 Social Media Scams