How to Stay Safe from Social Media Scams
It seems there’s a never-ending trail of scams floating around on social media. The latest one to surface can put you in serious danger of losing complete ownership of your page. It’s said that the best offense is a good defense; and when it comes to staying safe online, that is always true. You have the power to protect yourself from social media scams. Check these tips to keep you and your accounts safe.
Learn to Identify Bots or Spam Accounts
These accounts are created for the sole purpose of spreading spammy messages often encouraging you to buy followers or otherwise promising you great things for cheap or free. You know the old saying, if it’s too good to be true it probably is? That applies to life online. Spam accounts and bots have several identifying characteristics and can be found on every social network. Here’s what to look out for:
- No user icon or a generic, blurry or low quality user icon
- Profile filled with buzzwords
- Follows many more people than they are followed by
- Low quality posts (often the same thing sent to multiple accounts) or posts that don’t make sense
- Unfinished profile
- Doesn’t follow the norms of the social network (ex: Pinterest users who have fashion pins in their “Recipes” board).
- Gibberish username
- Poor spelling and grammar
- Doesn’t Post
- Private Message you with offers suggesting you click on a link to an unknown site
Not all bots will meet all of these characteristics. Some more advanced bots will look very similar to a legitimate account. Paying close attention to their activities and comparing them to a real user will help you figure out if that account is real or not. It’s best to just avoid (and report) bot accounts. Often they will post links to sites that could compromise your account or your device, so never click on links that they may post or message you.
Never Click Strange Links
This applies to email, social networks, and anywhere else you might be tempted to click on links. This is especially true for links to your social accounts. Always go directly to the site in question by typing in the full url yourself. It’s easy for hackers to develop a mirror site that lets you think you are logging into your account but really you are just giving away your login information!
Always keep your browser up to date. Browser updates help to address security flaws that may leave your device and your information vulnerable. Additionally use secure connections when available (https:) as most social networks now offer this by default. It will help keep your login credentials secure.
Outrageous Claims Are Usually False
Many social media scams suggest that your friends or someone you know is doing something outrageous and it just so happens to be caught on a video online. You know your friends better than that, right? Be skeptical of such claims and never click on the links in such messages. The same goes for messages of buying cheap followers on social media or instantly ranking at the top of Google’s search results. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is!
Tell Friends If You Suspect They Have Been Compromised
If you have friends who are suddenly spouting out tweets about a weight loss drug or pinning only Coach bags, they might have been hacked. Report this to your friend and to the social network in question so that they can secure their account. The messages they are spreading have the potential to infect even more accounts. So help stop the spread and keep everyone safe!
Report and Block All Bots/Spammers
Reporting all illegitimate accounts helps keep social networks a better and safe place for everyone. If you think you have found an account that is breaking the Terms of Service on any given network report them. These bad accounts can cause users to get viruses, or even get their accounts hacked! Help keep everyone safer by taking action against the spammers and bots!
As long as there are social networks there will be scammers trying to scam users out of their accounts, personal information and money. You can’t protect yourself by staying hip to the latests tricks to compromise accounts. Always stay alert about what you are clicking on when it comes to social media. It just might save your account.