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Anti-social media Part 1

Posted 16 November 2015

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Do you know the scams to look out for on social media? Read our article to learn what they are and how to protect yourself.

More and more of us are using social media and posting about the various aspects of our lives. According to the Business Insider UK, 14 million people use Instagram and a staggering 35 million people have a Facebook account – and these numbers are on the rise. It really seems that as time goes on, we’re becoming more comfortable with the idea of sharing our thoughts, beliefs, pictures, events, – our whole lives, on a social network platform.

Clearly this taps into something positive and enjoyable – we’re social creatures, and the idea of connecting with lots of people in one place obviously has its appeal. But what happens when these platforms for sharing our lives are abused by scammers and fraudsters, whose only interest is to try and make a bit of cash at our expense? With cyber-crime on the increase, it’s really time that you ask yourself whether or not you’re oversharing on social media.

Making yourself a target

If you’d just walked out of the bank, after having withdrawn a large sum of money, intuition would tell you it’s probably not a good idea to wave the cash about in the street. Well, the same rule applies to online behaviour when it comes to cash or anything of value.

There have been cases where social media users, in their excitement, have posted pictures of themselves with large sums of money or tickets to a popular event and paid the price. This is not a good idea. First of all, if you post a picture of the ticket, your name and the barcode will be on it. You’ll be unwittingly giving fraudsters the opportunity to copy the ticket and possibly gain access to the gig in your place or sell it on to someone else who wants to go. Imagine the horror of turning up to see your favourite artist, only to find that “you’re” already in there!

 

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In 2012 there was a case of an Australian teenager who posted a photograph of a large sum of money that she had counted at her grandmother’s house earlier. From this picture, criminals   tracked down where she lived with her mother, demanded to be let into the property with a knife, and stole some of the money, plus other items of value to the family. A very chilling reminder that you should never advertise wealth on social media if you can avoid it.

Apart from anything else, you should be aware of making it obvious that you’re going to be out of the house at a certain time. Perhaps criminals don’t want to clone your ticket, perhaps what they want is to know when you’ll be out, meaning that they can target an empty house and steal whatever they like, worth far more than the price of one ticket.

While it’s perfectly understandable that you’ll want to share events in your life that you’re looking forward to, it’s far safer to wait until after the event has passed before you post about it, or at least don’t mention when and where you’re going.

Bank safety and security

There have even been some cases where people have posted pictures of their actual debit and credit cards on social media giving away quite a few sensitive details all at once. Your card number, sort code, account number and expiry date can sometimes be the starting point that fraudsters need to either try and steal from the account or steal your identity.

Always make sure that your card is not anywhere in the frame of a photo – criminals may have the technology they need to enlarge a picture if it’s at all visible.

Scams to look out for

It’s really important that we all take care with what we share on social media. However, in most cases fraudsters won’t wait for you make a mistake – they will take it upon themselves to try and trick you.

Some criminals see social media as a big opportunity to run scams and one form this takes is the “request for money scam.” Imagine you log into Facebook and see that your friend is abroad. But instead of happy pictures of them on holiday you see a panicky message informing all of their Facebook friends that they’ve had their wallet stolen and desperately need someone to send them some cash. Now we can all sympathise with this situation and you’d want to think that if you were in this quandary then you’d have friends good enough to help you out. But think before you send any money anywhere. Contact your friend and make sure that they actually sent this post. It’s possible that your friend’s computer has malware on it and that this message has been sent out to everyone just to see which generous person can be swindled out of some cash.

And, that’ll do for today. Come back tomorrow to see what other scams you need to look out for and what you can do to protect yourself online. 

by Christine Walsh

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