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Would you fall for this social media scam?

social media scam

Cybercriminals are targeting people’s social media accounts in a bid to steal money and personal details. In fact, according to reports, a staggering 53% of all logins on social media websites are fraudulent, and 25% of all new accounts are fake[1]. And, while we have all heard about how people are using Facebook and other channels to spread fake news and influence elections, for some people, the consequences are much closer to home. So how can you protect yourself from social media scams?

Facebook PayPal Fraud

In one recent case, a Facebook user received a message from a friend on Facebook claiming he was having trouble with his PayPal account. The friend asked if he would accept some eBay payments on his behalf, and then send the money on to him.

While many of us might be suspicious if we were asked to give money to someone, most people are far less likely to worry about receiving cash. So, being the good friend he was, he accepted two payments and sent them on to the bank details provided.

However, as soon as the money had left his account, he got a message from PayPal saying that the payments he had received were fraudulent, and as such, were being reversed. This left the unwitting victim £300 out-of-pocket. Needless to say, his real friend had never asked for, or received any money.

To make matters worse, PayPal took no responsibility for the stolen cash. And, the young man learned the hard way that you should never take any requests to send money at face value, even if they seem legit.

What can you do to protect yourself from similar social media scams?

When using technology, we must be conscious of the data we are sharing, and how it can be used. Here are some quick tips to keep you safe on social media.

  • Don’t assume a message is authentic. Just because someone knows some personal information about you (i.e. your address, mother’s maiden name etc.), that doesn’t mean they are genuine
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know
  • Be careful about what you share online (e.g. avoid answering questions like “what was your mother’s maiden name” and “what was the name of your first pet”. Even if they seem to be part of a harmless quiz or post)
  • Remove location data from your posts
  • Use a different password for all your accounts
  • Use two-factor authentication
  • Check the privacy settings of all your accounts
  • Don’t download suspicious apps
  • Think twice before clicking on any links
  • Read the T&Cs of any games or apps you want to use
  • Always check with friends (offline) if they ask you to send money or do anything you are unsure about
  • Keep an eye out for fraudsters looking to gather personal information about you or someone you know
  • Never disclose security details such as your PIN or full banking password to anyone (including anyone claiming to be from your bank)
  • Know that banks or other trusted organisations will never contact you and ask you to transfer money to a secure account
  • If something doesn’t feel right listen to your instincts
  • If you’re worried that you may be at risk, report it to your bank, the Police or Action Fraud straight away.

Today, social media is part of everyday life. So, we would never suggest that you stop using it. But following these simple steps can help you to stay safe.

Get digitally aware

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we want to reduce the number of data violations and successful cyber scams taking place across the UK. To do this, we are raising awareness of this issue and educating people to help stop fraudsters in their tracks.

For more advice on how to keep safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of an online scam, contact us find out how we can help you to recover any losses.


[1] Arkose Labs