The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many issues that have caused us stress and hardship. Another downside to the pandemic is that people are spending more time online due to quarantines and social distancing. The reason that this is a downside is the fact that scammers are taking advantage of the increase in online activity. One of the fastest growing arenas for scams happens to be social media. Almost everyone uses some form of social media and scammers are looking to take advantage in anyway they can. Learn to protect yourself on social media so you can avoid becoming a victim.
Tips On How To Protect Yourself On Social Media
The FTC states that Americans lost over $117 Million to social media scams in just the first six months of 2020. While numbers have yet to be released for the second half of 2020 or the first half of 2021, those numbers very likely increased. Here are a few tips to help keep yourself safe:
- Avoid over-sharing. Many social media users become much too comfortable when using these platforms. It’s easy to think of your Facebook profile (as an example) as your very own “safe space”. However, this may not be the case. It’s possible that you’ve only accepted friend requests from people you’re very close with, but that’s unlikely. You may have inadvertently accepted a request from someone you thought you knew but may actually be a scammer. If you post personal information, even something as simple as your child’s full name, your place of employment or your date of birth could be the stepping stone needed for a thief to steal your identity. You should avoid posting any sensitive information on social media, especially if you’re unaware about our next bullet point.
- Set your security settings and check them from time to time. Many social media users are unaware that they can actually change their security settings to protect their privacy. On Facebook, you can set your posts to public (anyone and everyone can see), friends (where only friends you’ve accepted can see), specific friends (you select who can see your posts) or private. Allowing all of your friends to see your posts is perfectly fine as long as you follow the next tip.
- Periodically purge your friend’s list. From time-to-time you should go through your friend’s list and remove people you don’t know or don’t have any interaction with in real life (unless they live in a different area or you’re comfortable allowing a specific online-only friend to see your posts). Cleaning up your friend’s list every so often allows you to keep a grasp on who’s important to you on social media.
- Never click on pop-up advertisements. Pop-ups are notorious for being the home of fake products or viruses such as malware or ransomware. You should avoid clicking them altogether. If you see a product you’re interested in, Google it. If it’s a legitimate product, you can go directly to a site you’re comfortable with that sell it.
- Don’t feel like you have to accept everyone who sends you a friend request. Fake profiles are one of the most common ways that scammers gain access to you. You should take a bit of time to vet any new friend requests, even if you think you know them. Scammers will often create duplicate profiles of people you may know in order to try and scam you. If you aren’t sure if a profile is real or not, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is their name too generic?
- Is their profile picture too professional? You can even use Google Image Search to find out whether their profile picture has been used anywhere else on the internet.
- Have they made many posts?
- Do we have quite a few mutual friends?
If your answers to these questions leave you suspicious, don’t accept.
We hope that these tips will help you protect yourself on social media. You can never be too careful when it comes to your privacy.