Social media has become a part of our lives and it has changed the way we communicate forever. Today, there are a staggering 4.62 billion people using social media, with the average user spending over two hours on social media platforms everyday.
While social media has made it easy for people to stay connected, helped businesses thrive and made sharing information easier than ever before, it has also made it easier for cyber criminals to access and steal sensitive information through both simple and complex social media scams.
For businesses, cyber attacks can lead to major financial loss and reputational damage, with customers losing their trust in organisations.
Hackers don’t need to infiltrate a business’ network directly; employees could inadvertently open doors for hackers by falling victim to online line scams from the social media platforms they use.
You’re likely to have many social media users working in your organisation, this is why you should be aware of these five social media scams your staff could fall prey to if they’re not careful.
1) Free giveaway scams
It’s hard to resist the promise of a free gift, and that’s exactly why cybercriminals use fake giveaways to steal personal information.
Scammers post details on fake giveaways while claiming to be from a popular store. When the person clicks on the post, they’ll be taken to a fake website where they’ll be asked for their personal information, like credit card numbers, in order to claim the prize.
While there are legitimate online giveaways on social media platforms such as Facebook, users should always be wary of those that ask for their personal information or banking details.
If you want to check if a giveaway is real, visit the website of the organisation that’s supposedly doing it and see if they have information that can confirm the giveaway.
2) Fake news
Many people are fascinated by the lives of celebrities, so when they see an article or post on social media about something involving their favorite celebrities, they want to know more about it.
Fake gossip scams on social media are usually social posts with a headline about a celebrity, like "You'll never guess what celebrity’s name did” and a link that will supposedly take the reader to the article. Clicking on this link could lead to malware or ransomware being downloaded onto the victim's computer.
3) Account cancellation scam
This is a type of phishing scam that involves sending social media users an email telling them that their account is going to be disabled. The email includes fake details on why the account is going to be deactivated and requests that one must give them their login information.
These scams play on a person’s fear of being disconnected from their social media platforms, and this drives many individuals to divulge their login details without a second thought.
Facebook quizzes were a popular pastime in the early days of the popular social media platform. These quizzes can still be found and played; however, they could potentially infect a person’s computer with malware or ransomware when they open a link to play the quiz.
5) Online shopping scams
Scammers post Facebook advertisements about special deals or discounts for items in the guise of an online store.
These advertisements have links that take the user to a fake website that appear to sell merchandise from known brands. Here, people make their purchases, but they won't receive the item they paid for.
Businesses can fall victim to these scams too when they appear on the organisation's social media pages and a staff member attempts to make a purchase through them. This happens more often during the holidays or well known sale periods.
To avoid falling for scams like this, see if the online store’s website has contact information. If it doesn’t, it may be a fake website. Also, search for reviews about the online store and look for terms, like “fake” or “scam”.
Social media is here to stay and the number of people using it is growing every year. As long as social media platforms exist, cyber criminals will continue to use social media scams to take advantage of internet users.
With proper cyber security awareness training, however, your organisation’s employees can learn how to identify these cyber threats and keep themselves and the organisation safe.