Scams are becoming more commonplace on social media all the time. It turns out, your parents were right — you should never trust strangers on the internet. By now, we’ve all heard of the importance of privacy and security online, but how can you keep yourself safe beyond those privacy settings? Here are a few tips:
Check for grammar and spelling
Channel your inner English teacher and check any messages that look like they come from an official source for grammar and spelling errors. We are all probably aware that the long-lost distant relative or prince from overseas is a sham, but some scammers go so far as to copy the design of official emails or social media profiles of actual brands, making it harder to tell what’s real, especially when they make worrying claims like “your account has been compromised” and come packaged in a message that mimics the real thing. Remember that most brands won’t try to contact you on social media (especially not your bank!), and any official communications would have gone through a review process that would catch any grammar and spelling errors. You also will find all official messages sent to you from Facebook are saved within your profile, so review there rather than click a text or email.
Don’t believe you actually won that giveaway just yet
If you follow influencers on platforms like Instagram, you’re likely no stranger to giveaways. In loop giveaways, several influencers team up to offer large prizes to winner(s) who follow each of them. Individual creators also may host engagement giveaways, where entrants must follow and engage on certain posts. Brands often host giveaways for their products as well.
If you enter one of these giveaways and get a message that you’ve won, make sure it’s actually the host messaging you. Scammers are known to create fake accounts posing as giveaway hosts to try to trick unsuspecting people into clicking links or providing personal information. Remember that an influencer hosting a giveaway will never ask for your credit card information. You should also check a brand’s official website for mention of the giveaway being hosted on social media.
Don’t click links from strangers, even if they look legit
One of the most common ways that scammers manage to compromise your computer or accounts is by tricking you to click on links, including those appearing in direct messages or within the comments. If you happen to click on a strange link on social media or elsewhere, you should be especially wary of any webpages that seek to collect information via a form or prompt you to download something, but it’s not always so obvious. Your best bet is to avoid clicking on anything that could be questionable altogether.
Avoiding scams on social media is especially important if you have access to your company’s professional profiles or manage social on behalf of clients. It’s one thing to have your own profile be compromised, but it can be a real headache if your accounts are attached to credit cards or ad accounts. Make sure that you have two-factor authentication turned on and that you follow all security best practices for various platforms to keep yourself (and your brands) safe.