How NOT to fall victim to social media scams

30 Jun 2023 05:37pm
Social media users need to be mindful that scams are an entrenched part of social media and being duped by scams can happen to anyone. (Photo source 123rf)
Social media users need to be mindful that scams are an entrenched part of social media and being duped by scams can happen to anyone. (Photo source 123rf)

With June 30 being World Social Media Day, it could also be a time to reflect on the dangers posed by social media scams.It is crucial to remember that scams have evolved alongside social media platforms.

Today's social media scams are complex and creative: they involve multiple interactions across different platforms, taking advantage of the inherent trust users place in their online interactions and global reach.

Social media and messaging platforms have become one of the most attractive playgrounds for cybercriminals and users need to have a sceptical mindset to reduce the risk of identity theft and financial fraud.

In Singapore, the Singapore Police Force notes that the total amount reported to have been cheated from scams in 2022 increased 4.5 per cent to over USD 488 million. Likewise in Malaysia, from between 2021 and April 2023, losses as a result from scams amounted to USD 257 million.

Cyber scams continue to be a major issue across Asean and its leaders have pledged greater cooperation to combat the issue especially in regards to its facilitation of human trafficking.

As AI tools continue to evolve and become more accessible, it is just a matter of time to see the impact of scammers and cybercriminals using this technology.

Now, more than ever, users need to be mindful that scams are an entrenched part of social media and being duped by scams can happen to anyone.

It is recommended to follow these actions in order to avoid falling victim to social media scams:

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1. Be skeptical of everything you see on social media.

As social media platforms evolve, whether it’s through growth stages or are subject to economic changes, including a reduction in workforce on specialised teams, users should be very sceptical of what they see on social media and understand that it is unrealistic for any platform to detect every single scam.

Scammers are relentless, so they will find ways around existing mechanisms to detect and block suspicious behavior.

2. Carefully examine profiles.

For the most part, scammers are likely to create fake accounts that have little to no engagement, posts or following.

In some instances, scammers will compromise existing accounts with large followings, but their content will be a mismatch. Examining these profiles can help you identify most fake profiles or potential scams beforehand.

3. Being asked to go off platform is dubious.

If someone you recently met on a social media app asks you to move to another platform for some reason or another, recognise this is likely to get you away from guardrails such as platform moderation.

By taking users to text messages or WhatsApp, scammers are able to conduct their scams with less fear of being caught. In some cases, the scammers on one platform are not the same off platform.

For instance, maybe scammers on social media have poor English skills while their counterparts off platform are well adept with the English language.

4. Unsolicited links to visit an external site.

Do not share sensitive information on an unknown website. Do not sign up or purchase products before searching for the original website and comparing the links shared on the social network with those on the official website.

For cryptocurrency scams, do not blindly connect your cryptocurrency wallets to untrusted websites.

5. Take advantage of the existing functionality in the different platforms to report these channels.

If you suspect you’ve been targeted by a scammer, use the existing reporting functionality built into each platform to report these scams which could prevent other users from being scammed in the future.

Satnam Narang, Senior Staff Research Engineer at Tenable, is known for his contributions to the Anti-Phishing working group, the National Cyber Security Alliance and for being the first researcher to report tinder bot scams.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.