Week 4: Social Media Scams

Fraud Protection


2 min. read

By: FCU Team

These days, there is really no limit to the number of ways that criminals may attempt to go after you. We protect ourselves with passwords, security questions and passphrases, at work, on our phones, and tons of other places every day. But what if I told you there was something you’re doing that actually makes it easier for criminals to target you?

Social media phishing is just one of the latest ways the bad guys are taking advantage of unsuspecting victims online.  Phishing is an attempt to trick someone into divulging their personal information. Typically the type of information they are looking for includes, but is certainly not limited to, passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account information. While you may not be freely sharing this information outright, other information that you’re sharing online might be making their jobs a little easier.  Here are three ways you could be a potential target and how to rectify it.

Using Information You Share Publicly 

According to Security Watch, after a data breach at LinkedIn, it was revealed that 40% of six digit numeric passwords were a birthdate, and 25% of 8-digit numeric passwords were a birthdate with a four digit year. The odds of hacking a password, by just knowing someone's date of birth...not bad at all. Keeping other personal information private, like email(s), phone number(s) and addresses is equally as important.

Easy Fix: Update your privacy settings. Don’t share personal information like contact information or even birthdays except with close friends and family. 

Pretending To Be Someone You Know

In some cases, criminals may pose as someone you know to gain your trust. This may go as far as creating fake profiles and stealing photos to make it seem legitimate. One way that offenders may do this is to look through your friends list and once they have access, they may be able to find out more information about you than you would think. Consider locations you may have "checked-in" to or even photos you may be tagged in.

Easy fix: Make your friends list private. Limiting what others can see on your social media profiles is vital to protecting yourself from criminals and while your friends list may seem innocent, it's a packed full of information that could be useful to lawbreakers. 

Relationship Scams

Last week, we covered how criminals may target those looking for love online. However, these perpetrators are not only looking for romance, sometimes they simply target kind, unsuspecting victims for friendships that could be beneficial for them, but costly for you. If you receive a friend request from someone you don't know it's important to consider what their intent may be and how they even found you in the first place! These “random” profiles reaching out to you are most likely fake and could lead you into a potentially dangerous situation

Easy fix: Clean out your friends list. Don't add or message people on social media that you do not know.

What We Recommend:

First, limit the information you share online. If you like to share personal information, it would be important to keep your audience minimal. Every month or so, it wouldn't be a bad idea to take some time to complete a social media “check-up”. Sites like Facebook make it possible for users to see what their profile looks like to the public and people who aren’t in their social circles. We recommend taking advantage of that feature to see what information you're sharing with the world wide web. 

Criminals have a wide array of tools at their disposal; let's try not to make their work any easier.