For better or for worse, social media is an integral part of modern life. With so much personal information being shared on a public platform, it’s no surprise that identity theft and fraud have skyrocketed on social media. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the total sum of money lost due to social media scams has increased eighteen fold (1800%) between 2017 and 2022.
With so much at stake, it’s worth the extra effort to know how to spot a fraud and outsmart potential scammers.
What To Look For
There are several warning signs that you may be the target of a scam on social media:
- You receive a friend request from someone you’ve never met
- You receive duplicate friend requests from the same person
- An advertisement or post offers a popular product for a heavily discounted price
- A post or message that includes a link to an outside website
- A direct message asking for money (especially in cryptocurrency)
- A post claims that you’ve won a sweepstake or lottery that you never entered
As always, if you spot a scam, immediately report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
How to Avoid Identity Theft
While there’s no guaranteed way to avoid identity theft, these tips will help you better safeguard your personal information on social media.
- Check your self(ies) and don’t overshare: Check the background of your photos and selfies for receipts, bank statements, and computer screens to be sure you aren’t accidentally sharing sensitive information. Keep in mind that scammers can use seemingly innocuous information like birthdates, addresses and emails to create a fake profile in your name and use it to commit fraud.
- Adjust privacy settings and security features: Most social networks offer security features to restrict who sees your information. For example, Facebook offers alerts to notify you of an unrecognized login attempt. Twitter gives you the option to protect your Tweets and there are various privacy settings to consider on Instagram and LinkedIn.
Pro Tip: Still not sure what’s too risky to share? Put extra safeguards in place with social media monitoring. If you’re already a AAA Member, social media monitoring is provided at no extra cost to you! Simply log in to your AAA Identity Champion portal and connect your accounts to receive privacy and reputational risk alerts.
- Avoid logging in on public wi-fi or devices you don’t own: Despite the convenience of using the wi-fi at your local coffee shop or the free computer at the library, logging in to social media in these situations presents a security risk. Any keystrokes you perform, including logins and passwords, could be accessed by a third party without your knowledge.
- Tighten up password practices: Don’t reuse passwords and always make them long, complex, and difficult to guess.
- Use added security like two-factor authentication (which requires an additional login credential on another device you own) and biometrics (like fingerprint or face id) to make it more difficult for unknown users to access accounts.
These tips will certainly slow down potential scammers, but there’s no way to guarantee you won’t be the victim of identity theft. If the worst should happen, you want support from vetted experts who can walk you through the process of identity recovery. AAA Identity Champion not only offers credit and social media monitoring, but with the Protect and Complete plans, you can access identity restoration support, child web monitoring, and identity theft insurance1.
1The Identity Theft Insurance is underwritten and administered by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, an Assurant company under group or blanket policy(ies). The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. Review the Summary of Benefits.