How to Avoid Social Media Scams in the Oversharing Age

PUBLISHED: February 5, 2018

We all get emails like this one from ours mothers and aunts and anxious co-workers:

Look out… There’s a new scam where they friend you on Facebook, and they trick you into giving them $500, and then they run off with your money. Be careful on that social media.

It’s not an unsubstantiated fear. Cyber risk is real, and there is indeed good cause to be aware and alert. After all, Facebook and Twitter both recently confirmed what we already knew: that their sites are flooded with phony accounts. For Twitter, that number is more than 16 million. For Facebook, it’s up to 60 million.

Social media has revolutionized our culture in myriad ways, drastically altering the way that companies interact with consumers. Major corporations are using various sites to offer promotions, take stances on social and political issues, and appear more personable. Social media is our platform to broadcast our brands to the world.

But those advantages come at a cost, e.g. the 76 million fraudulent accounts eating up space on two of the world’s most influential social media sites. Whether through dubious landing pages or pyramid schemes on Snapchat (targeting millennials who don’t know what a pyramid scheme is but do want to turn $20 into $100), these scams can be devastating to individuals and corporations alike.

So let’s discuss some means of rooting out and squashing these scams and cybercriminals:

  1. Seek out the fraud. Scammers love to target businesses and, in particular, banks, credit card companies, and financial institutions. When their clients wind up losing large sums of money, banks feels compelled to compensate the affected customers. One means of reducing your cyber risk is to actively seek out the fraud that is taking place. Designate an individual or team to stay active on social media—tracking mentions on Twitter and comments on Facebook—and to investigate complaints from users. Doing so will prove to your customers that you genuinely care about their cybersecurity.
  2. Educate your employees. In today’s world, cybersecurity training for your employees is a necessity. It’s crucial that you educate them about current scams; teach them how to identify fraudulent messages or emails; and create strict rules in regards to internet usage. Staff members should have a clear outline of do’s-and-don’ts, reminding them that the personal information shared on social media—including pictures, relatives’ names, pets’ names, travel plans, etc.—is precisely what scammers are looking to capitalize on.
  3. Never compromise the customer. You can expect that every single one of your customers is on social media in some capacity. Inform them (and remind them often) that you will never contact them via social media about their account. The most popular and successful scams involve cybercriminals acting as company representatives, asking users to click on a fraudulent link or to provide secure information. So be clear about your protocol and communicate it often.

Social media marketing is all about engagement. You’ll hear time and time again: You must engage with your current and potential customers. In the midst of this engagement, it’s easy to forget the cyber risks and the scammers who are waiting for any opportunity or misstep. So engage, of course, but also be vigilant. It’s better to take a proactive stance now and not after you’ve fallen victim to cybercrime.

This article was published by Community Newspapers.

About Brand Poets

Founded by Tana M. Llinas, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, visual storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention.


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