[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith millions of people now on social media, it is becoming a lucrative platform for fraudsters seeking trap and dupe honest hardworking people out of their hard earned money. The US Security and Exchange Commission recently released some facts about how Social Media Fraudsters operate to dupe innocent people of their funds.
- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are the popular social media sites preferred by identity thieves seeking defraud people.
- Online fraudsters target social media sites to reach millions of potential victims because the cost is zero or negligible, and because these sites are easy to access, sign onto and create an account with minimal oversight.
- Identity thieves also like social media sites because the sites permit users to create legitimate-looking email, website and social media accounts create a feeling of legitimacy for the criminals and a better chance to convince victims to send money to them.
The US SEC also offers tips on how to avoid falling victim of social media fraudsters.
- Go private – Click on the default settings when opening an account on social media sites. “The default privacy settings on many social media websites are typically broad and may permit sharing of information to a vast online community,” SEC says. “Modify the setting, if appropriate, before posting any information on a social media website.”
- Go dark – Never hand over any personal financial data to firms purporting to be investment companies on sites like Facebook and Twitter. That means no Social Security numbers, no bank account data, or credit or debit card numbers.
- Go slow in allowing strangers’ access to you – Be vigilant who you share your social media “space” with online. “There is no obligation to accept a “friend” request of a service provider or anyone you do not know or do not know well,” says the SEC, and that goes double for investment firms looking to “friend” you on social media sites.
- Go secure on your smart phone – The SEC is blunt about securing your smart phone against social media intruders. “If your mobile devices are linked to your social media accounts, make sure that these devices are password protected in case they are lost or stolen.”
Be thorough, diligent and skeptical of any investment firm who wants your money after contacting you via Facebook or Twitter.