4 Tips to Keep Yourself Protected from Scammers and Hackers on Social Media

Social media scamming is a rapidly growing nuisance on the internet, with sponsored ads for fake prizes or investment tips popping up as frequently as more legitimate social media advertisements. In the first half of 2020, more consumer complaints were made to the FTC about social media scams than in all of 2019. Certainly, the pandemic causing more people to stay inside, and even move to remote work was a responsible party in the rise of the scams, but social media use has been steadily increasing for all demographics (especially the older generations) long before the COVID pandemic.

4 Tips to Keep Yourself Protected from Scammers and Hackers on Social Media

In addition to the add-style scammer ads, other types of scams occur with fake profiles or stolen profiles, where individuals pose as your friends and may ask for money or personal information. A common term on social media the past few years is “I got hacked” and that meant the individual’s account was taken over by a scammer/hacker. Random friend-adds are a bit easier to notice than someone pretending to be your friend, but understanding some social media security essentials can make the latter (and other social media hackers) have a much more difficult time accessing your information, and generally, these hackers simply move on to the next when they get any pushback.

Here are 4 tips for helping keep your social media secure.

Basic Device/Computer Protection

Hacking is considered a legitimate threat to national security, but even at that level, basic computer protection is point number one, and the same goes for your social media across your devices. Password changes should become more frequent as the scammers continue to rise, and any sort of public networks should be used sparingly and always logged off of. Auto-connections to public network are never a good idea.

Catfish

Romance scams, or “catfish scams,” are more commonly found on dating applications, but they are also occurring more often on regular social media services like Facebook and Instagram. The “easier said than done” way to protect yourself from these scammers is to not believe anything that seems too good to be true, but some people have gotten pretty good at this type of scam, and in 2020, victims of romance scams reported combined losses of more than $300 million.

A simple rule of thumb is to never offer to pay for something or to directly give money to someone until you meet them in person. As love can make anyone do things they wouldn’t do otherwise, it’s not a huge surprise that the average loss from a romance scam was ten times higher than other social media fraud types, at $2,500 for each lovestruck victim.

Another recommend means of preventing catfishing is simply talking to people about your potential love interest. Friends can be fantastic voices of reason when love is involved, and if money is being discussed, you may want to take a deep breath and share your situation with someone you trust.

Positional Security

Relative to the public networks, repeated posts of you doing weekly activities like working from the same coffee shop every Tuesday can be signals for hackers who know your home will be empty at those times. Hacking into personal networks is easier to do with an empty house, just as is physical theft which is why it’s important to have network security key to protect your digital assets. In addition, it’s good to save the vacation photos until after your return, for the same “empty house” scenarios that can be welcoming to hackers.

Security Settings

All social media services have countless variables when it comes to what other people can see, as far as your information. As the cases continue to rise, it is a good idea to revisit your settings to determine if they are as secure as you’d like them to be. Restricting access to your photos and information to “friends only” ensures no outsiders can see your information, but unfortunately the scenario still exists where your friends get hacked.

With that in mind, spreading awareness about these tips, and encouraging your family members to stay current on their security processes helps you out, too. There is a bit more vagueness when trying to help others avoid more “emotional” scams like catfish and friends that are too good to be true, but talks with your more impressionable loved ones about these scams is important, too.

Hackers will always evolve as security defenses do, so be sure to stay current on scam trends to protect yourself against threats that may not yet exist.

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4 Tips to Keep Yourself Protected from Scammers and Hackers on Social Media