While technology has boosted our ability to access virtually anything online, it has also created many more opportunities for social media fraudsters to take advantage. They can target anyone who participates in everyday online exchanges. That’s why it is so important to stay informed about the common internet scams. Here are six types of scams to watch out for, so you can keep your personal and financial information safe.

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are the most common online scam, with roughly 15 billion spam emails sent every day and thousands of people falling victim to these cons. Phishing involves getting a fraudulent email, text or direct message via your social profiles that seemingly comes from a well-known source and includes an urgent request for you to take action in some way. Here are some examples of a phishing scam:

  • You might get a message that seems to come from your boss, a colleague or a friend, asking you to send them money or a gift card.
  • Phishing fraudsters can also lure you into clicking on a link to a fake website, where they can then steal your personal information and gain access to your accounts.
  • Some fraudsters will pose as call center representatives to trick you into providing sensitive information.
  • Or target you with phony email promotions or opportunities that contain fraudulent hyperlinks designed to capture your personal information. 

If you receive a message saying you need to click on a link because you’ve just won money or a prize, the sad reality is that somebody may be trying to steal your personal information. Stay safe from phishing scams with some Bank’s Never Ask That tips:

  • Watch out for attachments or typos
  • Look out for a false sense of urgency
  • Don’t rely solely on caller ID
  • Avoid unusual payment methods
  • Slow down and think before you act

Giveaways or Contest Scams

Social media posts promising free gift cards, cash, clothes or expensive items can be tempting but they can also end up as a scam. Fraudsters create fake giveaways, impersonating accounts of brands or celebrities that are running legitimate contests. Once the fraudster gets enough engagement (i.e., likes, comments and shares), they will include a link to a malware system in the hopes you click on it.

How will you know that a giveaway is safe to enter?

Look for verified accounts, and giveaways with terms and conditions like how a winner will be selected and eligibility requirements. If the contest seems too good to be true then it probably is. Trust your instincts and reach out to the brand or company to verify the validity of the giveaway. 

Dating Scams

Much of modern-day romance starts on the internet, with over 300 million people worldwide using dating apps. Unfortunately, fraudsters target online dating sites to commit financial and identity fraud, also known as catfishing. According to the Federal Trade Commission, romance scams hit a record in 2021 as consumers reported a total loss of $547 million and as of February 2022, the total reported loss over the past five years has reached $1.3 billion.

In these cases, the fraudster manipulates a hopeful partner by creating a fake profile and establishing an online relationship to gain their trust over time. The objective of this con is to either ask for money outright or obtain enough personal information to steal the other’s identity and access their financial accounts. 

How to avoid a dating scam:

Before you share personal information or send money to anyone, especially a budding romance, make sure you have met them in person and try to validate their story. If they refuse to meet or have several excuses as to why they can’t connect in person, they may be scamming you. Be sure to do your research and put those detective skills to work. There’s a lot of information you can find about someone online, so if nothing comes up when searching for this person, they are likely misleading you.  

Job Posting Scams

As working from home becomes more common, fraudsters are positioned to profit from posting fake jobs ads. That’s because when you apply for any job, you have to provide personal information to be considered for the opportunity. The FTC states that the number of reported job scams nearly tripled to 104,000 between 2019 and 2021 and remained high in 2022. U.S. workers reportedly lost more than $200 million from employment-related scams in 2021.

Be vigilant when applying for jobs on these sites:

  • Craigslist
  • Social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat)
  • Online job forums (i.e., Indeed, Zip Recruiter, Monster)

When posting fake job ads, fraudsters seek to gain access to the personal information you submit when applying. These cons frequently offer work-from-home jobs with huge salaries or pay-outs. Job hunting is difficult enough without getting your personal information stolen, so be very selective before submitting any information to these offers. Here are some red flags to look for:

  • Payment required to get hired
  • The job posting withholds information
  • Potential employer is using a personal email address

When in doubt, check the Better Business Bureau site to ensure that this company is operating legitimately.

Virtual Marketplace

Online markets like Facebook Marketplace are a great resource to connect with buyers and sellers in your community, but scammers have come up with many ways to defraud shoppers. According to a recent survey, nine out of 10 people reported getting scammed on Facebook Marketplace, which suggests more people are affected by these cons than you might think.

Marketplace scams often involve the fraudster trying to buy or trade for an item without paying for it or by using an illegitimate payment service, offering a fake rental property, or posting an item for sale without delivering it as promised. If a deal is too good to be true, trust your intuition and do not give out any personal information that is not necessary for the transaction.

Crypto Scams

Crypto scams are like any other financial scam, except fraudsters are after your crypto assets instead of your banking or personal information. Cryptocurrency has several factors that make it an attractive target. There is no bank or other centralized authority that monitors crypto accounts for suspicious activity. Additionally, crypto transfers can’t be reversed. Once the money’s gone, you can’t get it back. The goal for cryptocurrency fraudsters is to manipulate victims into giving them personal data or transferring valuable digital assets like non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The fraudster might promise to massively grow your cryptocurrency value, but once they gain access to your crypto account, they transfer your assets to themselves.

The biggest take-away here: if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Nobody is safe from being targeted by an online scammer. Be attentive to what and who you interact with on the internet because unfortunately, there are plenty of fraudsters who want to steal your information for their own personal gain. 

If you are ever unsure about any online offer you receive, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Fraud Prevention department at 1-800-964-3444 to learn more and protect your money.

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