Top 10 Scams on Social Media and How to Outsmart them

Hailing from a generation whose day begins and ends by updating social media platforms; checking a long list of notifications, tweeting about trivial tribulations, and posting pictures related to some recent celebration – it shouldn’t come as surprise when I say this that we are the most vulnerable generation to have ever walked on earth.

All our lives are featured on social media as if it were a very personal manuscript we wished to publish someday in our name, but somehow some conniving relative got their hands on it and published every single piece of it online, only to realize later that we were the sole culprits of this unconsciously committed atrocity.  Since all our personal information is spread far and wide over the internet we have got ourselves in a very vulnerable position. 

For today we will discuss some of the most surprising social media scams that could happen to any of us if we don’t stay wary of the scammers/internet pirates. 

The free gift card scam

Don’t deny it; we all have come across this very badly designed yet equally alluring ‘let’s-click-and-see-what-happens’ pop up that says we have somehow won a gift card from either amazon or some other high-end brand. But, when you click on it you are redirected to a rather shady immature website that asks for personal information. 

Personal information includes your name, credentials and bank account details for transferring the voucher money into your account. While this may seem too good to be true (which it is) people tend to give in to the desire of getting easy money – and end up being conned. 

Prevention

  • Remember you cannot win vouchers for websites that you never bought anything from.
  • If you are being redirected to a whole new website then it is already a red flag.

Getting The Latest Gossip Alert

You will tempted to press on a link that says, ‘Michael Jackson is still alive’, or maybe ‘Osama bin Laden was taken alive, click here to watch video’ – while all of these headlines are a clickbait in themselves and target the curious part of human mind, one should never let go of their common sense.

Clicking on such links or ads results in a pop up asking them to download adobe flash player (that they already have on their laptops, ring a bell?) as soon as one downloads it, without knowing they have downloaded a Trojan bot or similar malware on their operating system themselves. 

 Prevention

  •  Don’t give in to all your temptations, use your common sense.
  • While it is easier to get tempted enough to click on such links, always remember to download plugin from authentic sites. 

Catfishing

This used to be a common tactic used by people of the western world to trap people and take advantage of them but now this phenomenon is equally prevalent in our part of the ‘civilized world’.

Catfishing refers to the phenomenon when a scammer turns to social media websites like Facebook or dating websites like tinder to create a fake profile and uses it to seduce victims or forming online relationships with them only to take monetary or emotional/physical benefits from them.

Prevention

  • Don’t trust everybody you meet online.
  • If someone is suddenly asking for money to meet you – know that it is a red flag. 
  • Also, demand personal information if you ever wish to meet them, run a background check; unless you are satisfied with your research, never fall for people online. 

Profile Hijacking

All of us are well aware of this scam where scammers use a person’s profile and other attributes by either hacking into their profile and using it for wrongful means; or by setting up different profiles in their name and using it to ask for personal favors from people who know the person they are trying to impersonate. 

Such scammers often resort to asking for money from the victim’s contact claiming that they have been mugged and need immediate cash. 

Prevention

  • Report your profile as soon as it get hijacked
  • Never add your personal account details to your profiles
  • Run a security check every now and then on all your social media IDs
  • If your account gets hacked, make sure to inform your close acquaintances ASAP to prevent any further damage. 

Lottery Tickets

Often times you might get a notification telling you you’ve won a lottery, as soon as you click on this link a number of porn websites start popping up; guess what you clicked on? A click bait virus that downloads on to your computer as soon as you click it.

Prevention

  • You cannot win a lottery that you have not applied for 
  • You cannot trust any link that comes with a strange time limit, because if it does then you know it isn’t coming from a reliable source

Facebook quizzes

No matter how badly you want to know which Disney princess are you, you are not supposed to click on to quizzes that come on websites along the ad pane. They will ask you to login using your Google account or your Facebook account and while you are happily celebrating your results the person sitting on the other side of computer has made hundred dollars by selling your information online. 

We often think that we are a generation that is enjoying so many free benefits because of world wide web without ever realizing that it is our time, attention and personal information that has gained value instead of tangible products which are being sold to different data analysis companies for content marketing strategy.

Prevention

  • Carefully read the terms and conditions.
  • Make sure the browsing experience is safe and secure by using firewall softwares
  • If you are ever on websites that offer services like top dissertation writing services be sure to report any such activity on their website before it’s too late. 
  • Deny access to personal information to third party applications. 

URL shortening

Nobody likes seeing long incomprehensible links to websites, no matter how unique and useful they may be. Often people give in to their desire of clicking on tiny URLs that are used on Twitter because of its strict character limit, however eye catching and easy to use they may they are also prone to carrying malicious links to dark web pages. 

Uniform Resource Locator hides the full location of source, you might find it useful to click on such links but you should always stay wary of the fact that they may link back to cybercriminal who can drop malware on your computer at any time.

Prevention

  • Avoid unnecessarily clicking on links that are spread wide over the internet
  • Make sure you have a strong anti-virus program installed on to your computer
  • Run an anti-malware check on your phone and other electronic devices on a scheduled time during a month. 
  • Use CheckShortURL to know where a tiny URL may lead. 

Chain Whatsapp Messages

‘Forward this message to a group of your friends to claim your prize’; we are a greedy generation whether you accept it or not. We put the welfare of our loved ones at risk by forwarding such chain messages without even realizing it. 

That’s just one example, almost five years ago there had been a similar Whatsapp message which asked people to forward that message or else their Whatsapp account will be deactivated, following the likes another message was circulated on Facebook with a tiny URL that asked people to post it as their status if they wanted to stop CIA from spying on them *scoffs*

Such hoaxes have been deemed fake from time to time by the officials, but the idea behind circulating such messages is to provoke anxiety and a state of confusion among users. Sometimes the main source may add malicious links, while at others it may be completely harmless. But one shouldn’t believe everything that doesn’t come from a reliable ‘looking’ source.

Prevention

  • Always look out for grammatical errors
  • Go to the official website for any public announcements that may have been made with regards to the aforementioned problem
  • Try to look over the internet for the source that had initially sent over the link

Nigerian Prince Scam

This one is a really interesting scam that most people have believed in blindly, even though the whereabouts of this go against all thought and logic. People usually receive an emotional message or an email from a person that usually is a woman who asks you to assist her in retrieving a large amount of money from a bank where you are required to pay a small amount of fee for papers and legal obligations, and in return for your service you are promised a large sum of money. 

Obliviously people abide by the poor woman’s request by handing over their bank details to this anonymous scammer; now the scammer either asks you to wire money to them in name of fees for papers time after time until you are left broke, and left without the money they initially promised you’d get. 

This is a popular scam and hence has a criminal name as well called the Nigerian 419.

Prevention

  • Earn your money, work hard for it; don’t just jump on every opportunity you get for grabbing easy money. 
  • Any unknown sources that ask of you for favors in terms of cash are scams – they will con you until you are left empty handed, so don’t hand out money to people unless you know them – or they have some legal (read: authentic) documentation with them. 

Hit man scam

This is scariest of them all. An anonymous email account might send you a message over any of your social media handle threatening to kill or kidnap you or a loved one. This person would throw in a few personal details about you and your family in an attempt to show you that they are willing to cross any boundaries if you don’t oblige to their demands. 

This extortionist scam has affected many individuals who profusely use social media as means for sharing their lives with their family and friends. While you might think that you have an online safe space to share your lives with your loved one you never really know who is watching you from the fences only to go full hit-man one you when they see it is convenient. 

Prevention

  • Don’t overshare your personal life on social media
  • Limit the people you interact with on social media
  • Keep a close check on your surroundings and activities that take place around you
  • Don’t trust everybody you call a friend online, make sure you only a close and intimate circle of friends added on your private profile. 
  • Run security and privacy check from time to time

Using technology in moderation is the only solution to the scamming problems. We do not realize how important and valuable our privacy is until it has been breached by someone. Facebook has been accused of using data of millions of users for promoting and targeting trump campaign in the 2016 elections, similarly a growing number of firms purchase data analytics from such applications for advertising their products to the right audience increasing sales. 

It goes as far as one could possibly imagine; if you opt for cv writing services to get a new job you are required to fill in a form with your credentials that are stored in to the vast database of the company, which mean virtually your data is never deleted, it stays in the memory of severs ready to be retrieved at any given moment. Unless you wish to be traced  you should really contemplate the choices you make when updating data online, because you never really know who is watching you. 

Author Bio

Dr Adrish Khan has a PhD from England; he is working as a full time consultant at Thesis Writing Help. He likes exploring the new trends of the technology and discussing them with people around him.

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