Expert Tips on How to Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams
Did you know how to protect yourself from Social media scams? It’s a great opportunity to learn about the most common scams on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and how you can protect your personal information from being stolen. So, let’s get informed and stay safe online!
Over the past few years, I reduced social media usage to improve my mental and social well-being and prevent nosy people from prying into my personal life. This also resulted in fewer spam messages and improved privacy settings, blocking access for potential scammers. Now, I encourage readers to take proactive measures to safeguard their personal information online, especially during the US Social Security Administration’s Slam the Scam Day
Scammer Also Know How You Can Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams
If you have fallen prey to an online scam, please know that you’re not alone. The Social Security Administration has recently released a warning that scammers are posing as government workers to deceive people into divulging their personal and financial information.
According to the US Federal Trade Commission, more than 95,000 individuals reported social media scams in 2021. Shockingly, over 25% of these victims reported suffering financial losses as a result of a scam that began with an advertisement, message, or post on social media.
Despite Facebook and Instagram’s waning popularity, these platforms still boast a massive global user base. Facebook has 2.9 billion monthly active users, while Instagram has 1.4 billion. This translates to a vast and diverse pool of potential victims for scammers to target.
Cybersecurity expert Liz Wegerer from VPNOverview.com has provided a list of common Facebook and Instagram scams in an email, and I have summarized each one with its warning signs and how to Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams.
- Phishing scams: Be cautious of phishing links in messages or posts as they can direct you to a fake website or infect your device with malware. Do not click on links sent by strangers, and inspect the URL before clicking on a link from someone you know. Avoid unfamiliar or misspelled web addresses. It is one of the most ways to Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams.
- Romance scams: Be wary of strangers who contact you through social media and dating apps, as scammers may trick you into sending them money. Do not disclose personal information to them.
- Fake investment scams: Do not send money to strangers who promise significant returns for a small investment.
- Bogus brand-collaboration requests: Be cautious of unsolicited messages on social media offering payment for promoting a product. Verify the legitimacy of the brand by asking for a video chat or hiring a lawyer to look over the agreement before signing.
- Selling followers and likes: Scammers may ask you to pay for fake followers or likes, and then steal your payment information. Build your audience organically and keep your payment details safe from scammers.
- Job-offer scams: Avoid engaging with job postings on social media platforms and visit the company’s official website directly to verify job listings. Be cautious of job offers that require you to fill out forms with personal information.
- Quizzes and game scams: Refrain from participating in personality quizzes or games that ask for personal information, as they could use it to gain access to your account or passwords. Alternatively, you can provide false answers to keep your information safe. Avoiding these puzzle games is one of the most useable methods to Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams.
- Charity scams: Research thoroughly before donating to any charity, especially if it’s related to a significant event, such as COVID-19 or natural disasters.
Reducing Social Media Data Exposure: Tips to Protect Your Information or to Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams.
Social media is a goldmine of personal information for scammers to use in phishing scams, but you can take steps to limit their access to your data. Here are seven ways to lock down your social media activity:
Evaluate Your Privacy Settings:
Your social media account’s default privacy settings can expose your posts, photos, and other personal information to the public. Therefore, it is essential to review your privacy settings to ensure you are not sharing more than you intend to with strangers. Here are some tips to evaluate your privacy settings to Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams.
- On Instagram: If your account is public, anyone can view your posts, follow you, and send you messages. To make your account private, go to your profile, tap the three horizontal lines, and select Settings > Privacy > Account Privacy > Private Account.
- On Facebook: You can customize your privacy settings to determine who can see your posts, friends list, and personal information. To access these settings, click the downward arrow in the top right corner of your Facebook profile, and select Settings & Privacy > Settings > Privacy.
Use a Password Manager and Enable MFA:
Strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are essential to securing your social media accounts. Here are some tips:
- Use a password manager: It is nearly impossible to remember all of your passwords, so use a password manager to generate and store strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts. Some popular password managers include 1Password, LastPass, and Dashlane.
- Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA requires you to provide two or more forms of identification to log in to your accounts. For example, you can use a password and a verification code sent to your phone to log in to your social media accounts. To enable MFA on Facebook and Instagram, go to your settings and enable the feature.
Keep Track of Third-Party Apps:
Many third-party apps request access to your social media accounts, and some of them might be malicious or collect your data without your consent. Here’s how you can manage these apps:
- Review your connected apps: Check which apps are connected to your social media accounts and remove any that you do not use or recognize. On Instagram, go to your profile, tap the three horizontal lines, and select Settings > Security > Apps and Websites. On Facebook, go to your settings and click on the “Apps and Websites” section.
- Be cautious when granting permissions: Before you connect an app to your social media account, review the permissions it requires. If it asks for access to your personal information or the ability to post on your behalf, consider whether it is necessary.
Buy Only From Verified Profiles and Brand Accounts to Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams:
Social media platforms can be excellent places to shop, but it’s essential to be cautious when making purchases. Follow these tips to avoid scams:
- Verify the account: Before you make a purchase from a social media account, make sure it’s legitimate. Check if the account is verified by the platform by looking for a blue circle checkmark next to the account name.
- Avoid deals that sound too good to be true: Scammers often use social media to offer deals that are too good to be true. Be cautious if a deal sounds too good to be true, and do your research before making a purchase.
Be Careful What You Share to Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams:
What you post on social media can have a significant impact on your privacy and security. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid sharing sensitive information: Don’t post personal information such as your address, phone number, or Social Security number on social media.
- Be cautious about location data: Social media platforms often collect location data, which can be used to track your movements. Be careful about sharing your location on social media and turn off location tracking for your social media apps.
Beware of Scammers and Phishing Attacks
Scammers and hackers often use social media platforms to lure unsuspecting users into divulging personal information or clicking on malicious links. Be cautious of friend requests or direct messages from unknown individuals, especially if they contain suspicious links or requests for personal information. If you receive an unexpected message or request, do not click on any links or provide any personal information until you have verified the authenticity of the sender.
Avoid Oversharing Personal Information
Be mindful of the personal information you share on social media platforms. Avoid posting sensitive information, such as your home address, phone number, social security number, or financial information. Additionally, avoid sharing information about your whereabouts or travel plans, as this could make you vulnerable to physical attacks or burglaries.
Regularly Review Social Media Accounts and Also Clean up
Regularly review your social media accounts to ensure that your personal information and activity are only visible to the individuals you trust. Delete any old or outdated posts, photos, or comments that could potentially compromise your privacy or security. Also, consider removing any individuals from your friend list who you no longer trust or want to share information with. Finally, review your privacy and security settings regularly to ensure that they are still in line with your preferences and needs.
By following the above-mentioned steps about Expert Tips on How to Protect Yourself from Social Media Scams, you can limit social media data leaks and protect your privacy and security online. Remember to be cautious and mindful of the information you share on social media platforms, and take proactive steps to secure your accounts and devices against cyber threats.