Today, we unveiled a new Fraud Watch Network campaign to inform Americans about social media hazards and provide information about how consumers can protect themselves and their loved ones. While roughly 70 percent of Americans regularly use social media, according to the Pew Research Center, many aren’t aware of these new types of scams.
We understand that scammers have been using email and telephone calls to target unsuspecting victims for years. But con artists are just as likely to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to execute their insidious scams to steal people’s money and identities.
That is why we created this educational campaign that includes online videos and a new website; and warns Americans about specific social media scams, such as the coupon scam and the genealogy scam:
- Fraudsters execute the coupon scam by distributing advertisements featuring too-good-to-be-true deals on hot items. The real goal is to charge consumers’ credit cards for phony goods or products that will never arrive, or to collect personal information for identity theft.
- The genealogy scam capitalizes on the current popularity of ancestry research. Scammers set up a legitimate-looking website and social media account – often mimicking the name of an authentic genealogy site by altering a character or two of the name. Victims are duped into providing their credit card information, Social Security numbers and other personal information to the identity thieves.
In addition to the new online resources, AARP Fraud Watch Network Ambassador Frank Abagnale participated in several broadcast interviews to discuss tips on how to recognize various types of social media scams and how to remain safe while using social media sites.
Abagnale provided these 4 tips to avoid identity theft via social media:
- Never post personal information, including a Social Security number – not even the last four digits -- birthday, place of birth, home address, phone numbers, or personal account information.
- Avoid posting a front-facing picture on social media sites. A con artist can copy the image and use it to create a photo ID that can be used to steal a person’s identity.
- Set the privacy options for each social media account to restrict personal information, so it can only be viewed by a select group of people. Check the privacy settings regularly.
- Don’t log in to social media accounts via a public wireless network, where scammers can lurk. A 2016 survey by the AARP Fraud Watch Network found that more than 70 percent of the respondents have accessed their email, Facebook and other social media accounts via free public Wi-Fi.
For more resources and tips on social media scams, visit http://www.aarp.org/SocialScams.