What are the biggest types of social media fraud?

How much do you use social media? Many of us have come to rely on the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay connected, to follow the news and even buy things. But with their rise in popularity comes an increased risk of fraud.

Almost a third of identity fraud victims have a visible digital footprint on the web, with the vast majority on social media1. These types of scams are getting more and more sophisticated, often using brand logos and false terms and conditions to appear genuine. Here we look at the most common types of social media fraud and how to protect yourself online.

Social media scams

Fake friends

It goes without saying that you should be wary of who you keep in touch with on social media. People requesting you as a friend and asking for money seems like something that only happens on American TV shows, however it is surprisingly common. The fraudster may go so far as to pose as one of your friends, or send you a phishing link which takes you to a malicious site.

Free app downloads

Often these apps ask you to give your personal information. Sometimes an app that seems real will actually download malware onto your device. Before getting new apps, ask yourself if you trust the source, do your research and avoid third party app stores – stick to the one given to you by your phone provider.

Quizzes

Online questionnaires promising to tell you your personality type, which celebrity you look like or give you a too-good-to-be-true prize, come with hidden threats. They usually include terms and conditions which allow the data you enter to be sold to third parties. It also means the app developer can obtain a lot of information about you from your profile, friends and IP address. Avoid any short quizzes advertised on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Hidden URLS

Beware of clicking on shortened URLs which hide the full location of the webpage. They are very common on Twitter and while they could innocently direct you to the correct site, there’s always a chance they might divert you to one which installs malware. Be wary of what you click on, check if the post is typical behaviour from the account publishing it and make sure you have real-time protection against spyware and viruses.

How to stay safe on social

Use strong, unique passwords

You should have unique passwords for all your online accounts, including email. People often have the same passwords for their accounts, which is dangerous. If your password also uses any type of personal details (like a pet’s name or mother’s maiden name) a fraudster might easily grab this from your social media posts. Try using Dashlane or LastPass to create passwords that are harder for criminals to crack.

Don’t post personal details

If you’re sharing your nicknames, pet’s names, address or when you’re on holiday, you’re probably increasing your risk of a fraudster being able to piece together your details.

Make your accounts private

Or have limited details showing on anything that can be viewed by the public. That way only trusted friends and family can see what you’re posting.

Steer clear of strangers

If someone contacts you on social media asking for personal details, be very careful. Always make sure they are genuine and you’re providing details for the right reason.

Delete old social media profiles

Keep track of your digital footprint by removing any accounts you no longer user. If a profile was created ten years ago, there may be personal information currently available for a fraudster to use that you’re not aware of or you have forgotten about.

Install anti-virus software

There are a number of free services which can help protect your laptop and any other personal devices from malware.

Take care on public Wi-Fi

Sometimes scammers can impersonate a genuine Wi-Fi network or hack into an existing one. If you’re getting connected on the go, avoid using apps with sensitive information, like mobile banking.

What to do if you’ve been a victim of ID fraud

Contact a credit reference agency

We can contact all the lenders on your behalf through CreditExpert (£14.99 a month after 30 day free trial).

Add a Notice of Correction password to your credit report

You can do this for free with all the credit reference agencies and lenders should ask for this when you apply for credit. Make sure the password is unique and not something easy to guess.

Report the crime to Action Fraud

This is where you formally report any ID fraud and should be provided with a crime reference number.

Contact Cifas

This is the UK’s fraud prevention service if you’ve been a victim in the past. By registering your details and paying a small fee, you can add an extra layer of protection to your credit report. The three credit reference agencies can also help you with this.

1https://www.cifas.org.uk/newsroom/new-report-reveals-where-personal-data-is-compromised-online