They steal your personal details via social media channels
Your personal information is valuable to criminals. Protecting yourself from scams also means keeping your personal information safe and secure.
How does it work?
Even if you have your social media accounts configured as ‘private’ and properly protected, or if you are cautious and don’t share much information within your profiles (pictures, videos, status updates, etc.), scammers use different techniques to trick you into typing in your personal details (name, email, password, credit card number, etc.), information which then can be used to steal your identity.
Your personal details can help fraudsters to
- make unauthorised purchases on your credit card or open bank or telephone contracts and accounts;
- take out loans;
- sell your personal information to other fraudsters;
- carry out illegal business under your name.
Many attacks follow a similar pattern, some classic ones include
- Twishing (a combination of the words Twitter and phishing) is the act of sending a message to a Twitter user directing them to visit a website. If the user logs in to the fraudulent site, the attacker obtains their account information (name and password).
- Who viewed your profile or social media page? Such service will request that you grant it access to your profile. It will then lead to a fraudulent survey, making you share your personal information. The spammer will earn a commission each time someone fills in the survey. You will never find out who looked you up.
- “Is this you in this video?” By clicking on these videos you will end up in a survey that earns money for the spammer. You could also end up infecting your device with malware.
- “Your account has been cancelled”, “confirm your email account”. Such scams aim to get you to disclose your private information and account credentials.
- Gift card scams and fake offers from popular, high street names or high value brands. These scams aim to get the user to reveal personal information or sign up for expensive services. They take up a new form every month and sound too good to be true – the requested service or product will never arrive.
- Miracle product, free trials! This online scheme uses free trial offers, bogus endorsements, and surveys to trick you into paying for products and subscriptions you don’t know you are signing up for (e.g. recurrent shipping fees).
- “Earn loads of money working from home”. Any job that requires a fee for you to start is likely to be fraudulent. These adverts are found on social media and they direct to an offer that charges for a kit that will help you get started on making thousands of euros. You can be asked for a lot of personal details, including your tax file number, copies of your passport or driving licence. Some job offers may be covers for illegal money laundering activities, asking that you receive payments into your bank account for a commission and then pass the money on to a foreign company. You will be acting as money mule for criminals, which is a crime.
- Help, I’m in trouble! An impersonator who pretends to be a relative in urgent need of money contacts you via social media message. The scammer will show distress and will ask you to wire him/her cash. Telephone, email or text message can be other ways of approaching you.
What can you do?
- Any time you want to verify information about a social media account, go directly to the site – do not trust a link that claims it will take you there.
- Be aware of how much information and pictures you share on social media sites. Fraudsters can use it to create a fake identity or target you with a scam.
- Review your privacy and security settings on each social media account. Take the time to understand exactly what your profile shows about you to the public.
- Do your online research. Search for the name of the product or the job offer to see what others are saying. You can combine it with words like “review”, “complaint” or “scam”.
- Report profiles you suspect to be scams to the social media platform. If they follow or befriend you, make sure you block them and cease to have any interaction.
- Regularly monitor your credit and debit card statements. If you are charged for something you haven’t ordered, contact your bank and the card provider.