Fraud Week 2017 – How to spot a social scam

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Go to the bathroom, have a shower, or get dressed? Well according to a recent study, 80% of 18-44-year-olds check their smartphones before they clean their teeth every morning. Many of you reading this would already be aware of this, you may even be reading this with bleary eyes in bed.

Often those waking up with their phones are using the time to catch up on what they missed overnight on social media. Social media is now playing a huge role in our lives, with people now spending many waking hours using social media (40 hours a week according to the R U OK Foundation). This great social migration also sees others who may not have your best interests at heart, also now heading online.

In 2016 Scamwatch received more reports than ever of scammers approaching their victims through social networking sites. Victims reported losing over $9.5 million to social media scams last year – almost three times more than in 2015. During this Fraud Week, the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce and RSVP wants to help social media users learn how to spot a scam.

Take a look at the tips below, so you’re able to wise up to scams.

Dating and romance scams

  • Check the profile of new friend requests, especially if you have only met the person online. Look out for:

  • new profiles with limited content

  • hidden friend lists or friend lists full of people of the opposite gender

  • profiles that read like a dating profile

  • grammar and spelling errors.

  • Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met in person.

  • Be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos, especially if you’ve never met them before in person. Scammers are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material.

  • Don’t share personal information with someone you have never met in person.

  • Do an image search of your admirer to help determine if they really are who they say they are. You can use image search services such as Google or TinEye.

Fake trader scams

  • Check reviews before buying online. Try to find how reputable a seller is by searching for reviews.

  • If the product doesn’t arrive, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.

  • When making online payments, only pay for items using a secure payment service. Don’t use unsecured transactions like wire transfers.

  • When using retail websites, find out exactly who you are dealing with. If it is an Australian company, you’re in a much better position to sort out the problem if something goes wrong.

Safe use of social media

  • Don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know.

  • Report profiles you suspect to be scams to the social media platform – they might not be attempting to scam only you!

  • People may be able to see more about you than you realise. Take the time to understand exactly what your account shows about you to the public.

  • Review your privacy and security settings on social media. If you use social networking sites, such as Facebook, be careful who you connect with and learn how to use your privacy and security settings to ensure you stay safe.

  • If you have been scammed online, take steps to secure your account and be sure to report the conduct to the platform.

  • For more information or to report a scam, visit the Scamwatch website.

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