Who needs a class reunion when you can just catch up with old friends on Facebook? Social networking is a great way to connect with friends and colleagues, but it can also be a vehicle for potential criminals who use available personal information and social tools in an attempt to commit fraud. From Facebook phishing lures to Twitter hoaxes, here are eight scams to avoid when connecting on social media.
In this scam, an individual will advertise or reach out to members of a certain financial institution and offer so-called "legitimate" ways to make thousands in exchange for your account information, debit cards and PIN. If provided, the scammer makes out with the money from your accounts.
“Credit Repair” Scams
In this scam, a member is solicited by individuals who claim they'll be able to improve the member's credit quickly in preparation for buying a home or a car. All they request is that the member supplies them with their online login credentials so they can view their accounts. They always say something to the effect of "I can't make any transactions or transfers without your bank first contacting you to confirm they're legitimate, so you don't have to worry." Then when they give up their info, the scammer logs into their account, applies for personal loans, then instructs the member to call in and Western Union or ACH the funds to a third party (recently in Chicago). It's not until later that the member realizes that the funds they just sent out either derived from their own paycheck or a recently approved loan in their name.
“Earn thousands working from home!”
While work-from-home jobs do exist, they're generally found through companies themselves, not Twitter. Most of these online offers are nothing more than scams that ask for a "starting fee" that you'll never see again.
The 419 Scam
One popular ruse is called a 419 scam. In this scam, a fraudster will use a hacked social media account and instant message someone in the victim's network. He or she will pose as the hacked individual and often claim to be stranded while traveling and need money to get home. You'll receive instructions to wire money, and the imposter often promises to pay you back upon his or her return. Always verify these requests by speaking directly to the person allegedly sending the message. If you can't contact him or her directly, verify what you're being told with friends or others who are close to the person in question.
“See who views your profile!”
Sometimes you'll come across this claim along with a link either on a website or on a friend's Facebook page. While this scam preys on your desire to see who is checking your Facebook page, it doesn't actually do what it says. Instead, you'll likely be redirected to a survey page to collect information and possibly earn a commission for the scammer.
“Get a free gift card!”
You may also come across this scam while scrolling through your news feed. While it may sound reasonable for a retailer to be giving away gift cards in exchange for "likes," these offers are rarely legitimate. Instead, it's likely a phishing attempt to get your personal information.
“Your user account has been canceled.”
You may occasionally get emails claiming to be from sites like Facebook or Twitter informing you that your social media account has been canceled. They usually contain a link that you're asked to click to confirm or cancel your cancellation request. Instead, these links are used to install malware or phish for information. If you think an email may be legitimate, go to the social networking site directly to access your account. A similar scam sends emails asking you to confirm your email address for a site.
“Win a free iPad®!”
Some scammers will create a fake account with a financial institution or other business' name and logo, claiming to be hosting a giveaway. They may ask you to send a text message to a number or provide personal information to enter. Never follow these kinds of links if you're unsure of their origin. Visit the institution's official website and look for social media links there to verify that accounts are legitimate.
Navy Federal will never ask for your account information or Access Number via social media. Any message you receive from Navy Federal on social media will come from one of our official accounts.