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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > July 2013 > Protect Yourself from Social Media Fraud

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Protect Yourself from Social Media Fraud

With the explosion of social media, people have made online connections with many individuals, organizations, and events. Social media can be beneficial, and many legitimate people, businesses, and agencies create accounts to keep others informed of their news and promotions. However, scam artists also are taking advantage of social media sites, using fake profiles and accounts to trick consumers into losing money or releasing personal information.

Scammers and identity thieves use social media to create and send a variety of scams to a large number of users. For example, scam artists may create a fake personal account and befriend you. After developing a sense of trust and friendship, the scammer may ask you for personal information or money. Scammers also may pose as a legitimate organization and ask you to donate to their organization through a website that actually routes the money to the scammer’s personal account.  

A common tactic used by scam artists is to contact a consumer and ask for money, and once it is received, ask for more money. One consumer who filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office was friended via a social media site by someone he did not know personally. The “friend” asked the consumer for money because her daughter was dying. After the consumer sent it to her, she requested more money, claiming that her father had died and she needed $200 to pay an attorney’s fee.  
Always be cautious when creating a public update. A scam artist who sees your post about a vacation or business trip on social media may use the opportunity to target family members or friends. The scam artist could pose as you and pretend to be in distress. A concerned family member may send money, only to lose it to the scam artist.   

Scam artists also can learn a lot about you by what you post online. For instance, you might post about your grandson “Collin,” which makes it easier for a scammer to call you and pretend to be “Collin.” 
To avoid becoming a victim of social media scams:
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
  • Be leery of sending “friends” money when asked via a social media site. The account may have been hacked.
  • Avoid giving in to tempting job offers that seem too good to be true. (They usually are.)
  • Do not provide personal information in surveys or quizzes.
  • Take advantage of security measures and familiarize yourself with privacy policies offered on social media sites.
  • Don’t overshare. Scammers can learn about you, your family, and friends just by what you post online.
  • Use a variety of strong passwords (note them in a secure place) and change passwords frequently.
  • Only enter personal information in secure webpages, which contain “https” in the Web address.
  • Verify U.S. federal government social media accounts using a tool on the U.S. government’s web portal.
For more information on how to protect yourself from deceptive individuals who want money or personal information through social media or other methods, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or visit