If you frequent social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, you certainly come across lots of information you didn’t ask for. Chances are that much of what you’re seeing are advertisements. Most advertisements are from legitimate companies but that’s not always the case. The key to avoiding social media scams is differentiating the scammers from the legitimate companies.

Avoiding Social Media Scams

Detecting social media scams can be difficult because many advertisements are aimed at you due to targeted marketing. Targeted marketing is where advertisers will target an audience based on any combination of age, demographics, location, interests or even what you follow on social media. Since these ads are targeted toward you, most likely they will feature products or websites that you may be interested in. When these advertisements are from legitimate companies, this can open your eyes to exciting new products or companies. When these ads are a scam, it can lead you to losing money or even identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that Americans lost over $116 million due to scams originating from social media in the first six months of 2020.

How To Detect Social Media Scams

The largest number of scams are attributed to bogus online sellers. They take your payment and never deliver the on the items you purchased. In addition, romance scams and phony online profiles of friends or family members are very common. Here are some tips to reduce the chance of becoming a victim:

  • First and foremost, take a look at your privacy settings on all social media accounts. Limit what you share to only the people you trust.
  • Never give money to a romantic interest that you’ve never met in person.
  • If you meet someone on social media and they rush to become friends (or more), take a step back. Don’t rush into anything, especially with someone you don’t really know.
  • If you find a product you wish to buy that showed up in an ad, make sure you vet the company first. You can Google the name of the company along with words such as “fraud” or “scam” and then take a look at what has been posted.
  • If a friend or family member messages you on social media asking for money, call them. Not only can you find out if your acquaintance actually sent the message, you may be able to alert them that their account has been hacked if they didn’t.

Social media can be a great place to keep in touch with friends and loved ones. However, it is increasingly becoming a place for scammers to thrive. Avoiding social media scams is up to you doing your research and keeping your wits.