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Social Media Fraud: Trends You Need To Know

Aerial shot of someone holding a phone with a mug and book on the table

Social media has firmly settled itself into our culture, with about 63% of the globe on social media. In fact, Americans have, on average, 7 social media accounts. With social media so integrated in our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to forget that there are scammers lurking, trolling for information that can be used against you. Here are some of the ways criminals use social media to steal your data and money.

Social Trends

“Birthday update or bad day tmr,” “2005 babies tap in,” “you rn or you don’t shower.” These sharing prompts, usually on IG stories or TikTok, seem incredibly silly and innocuous at first. And sure, many of them really are harmless. But if you love getting in on a trend, think twice before sharing. Take a closer look at those examples. They might seem like they aren’t asking for much, but each gave a bit of personal info: your birthday, the year you were born, and your face plus whatever else can be seen in the background. Scammers can take this information and use it to steal your identity or to figure out your passwords.

Do Me a Favor

If you get a message from one of your friends asking you to help them get back in their account by clicking on a link so they can verify their account, would you click on it? Not so fast! This isn’t your friend, but a scammer trying to trick you into getting locked out of your own account. This is a textbook example of social engineering, which are techniques scammers use to get information or access by subtly influencing a target into giving it to them. When in doubt, don’t click the link, don’t share a code, don’t give anyone information.


An oldie but a goodie; quizzes that circulate on Facebook are prime information gathering ploys. They seem fun, but in doing these quizzes you’re unwittingly handing over answer after answer of your personal information to some unknown recipient. “What color is your aura?” “What’s Your Victorian Era name?” At best, your data is probably being sold to advertisers. At worst, you’re giving this information to a scammer. Just skip this one.

Vacation = Break In

This is another one that is in no way new, but deserves mentioning. It’s fun to share pictures of your beach getaway or your fun family vacation to that incredible amusement park, but hold off on posting for a few days until you’ve returned. When you post on social media pictures of you sitting by the hotel pool, you’re advertising to potential thieves that your home is ripe for the picking. Bonus: if you posted one of those social media quizzes, you might have given your street name out, making you that much easier to find.

Fakes and Frauds

Fraudsters’ techniques evolve very quickly, and they’re excellent at adapting to new forms of media. One prolific scam type is the social media shopping scam. This one is especially effective on Gen Z and younger Millennials. Scammers will create fake storefronts filled with products they advertise on social media sites like Instagram and TikTok, only to never deliver once the funds have been transferred. Fake influencer accounts are relatively easy to create, and the perceived weight of an influencer’s endorsement of a product makes it seem more legitimate.

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