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How to Spot and Stop Social Media Scams

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6.28.2021
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Security
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Christa Robbins

Social media is big business. Companies are using it to connect with customers, drive business results and enhance brand reputation. The stats speak for themselves. According to GWI, 54 percent of social media users use their platforms to research products and 71 percent are more likely to purchase products and services based on social media referrals. Simply responding to a social media complaint can pay dividends. According to a study led by social media expert Jay Baer, answering a complaint increases customer advocacy by as much as 25 percent.

With great power, however, comes great responsibility. Social media keeps billions of people connected and, for the most part, it’s a trusted source of information among friends. For these reasons, it's a prime spot for scammers and attacks can come from any angle - be it targeted phishing, hacking or human error. If you're a business, you must lean on your employees to adopt sound security practices. As a personal user - or influencer - on social media, you must protect your personal reputation and your paycheck.

FOR BUSINESSES:

Educate Your Employees

Your employees are prime targets for scammers, but they are also your best line of defense. Start by drafting an internal social media engagement policy. At minimum, your policy should cover personal responsibilities, brand standards, copyright protections, instructions for how to interact with disgruntled customers and cybersecurity best practices. Make this policy widely available to your employees and incorporate it into your new employee onboarding process.

Audit Your Administrators

Limit the number of account administrators who have access to your social media accounts. You should perform an administrator audit at least quarterly. To streamline this process, designate a lead social media team member who will be responsible for the audit, adding new administrators and approving MFA requests. Your social media lead should also be responsible for staying abreast of new social media security risks, as the environment is ever-evolving.

Watch Out for Influencer Imposters

A successful influencer marketing strategy can increase your brand’s reach and reputation. Still, you shouldn't invest in an influencer without conducting some research. First, check their followers. Do you see a lot of profiles without pictures? Second, look at engagement. Does your influencer have a lot posts with little to no likes? Chances are, it's a scam. Do not give this individual access to your accounts.

FOR INDIVIDUALS:

Review Your Privacy Settings

To make matters more complicated, every platform is a little different. In general, you will want to check for login alerts, login locations, third party app access, search settings, and public profile viewing options. Take the time to do this at least twice a year as privacy options are updated frequently (and without notice).

Set Stronger Passwords

Enable multi-factor authentication, set strong passwords and use a different password per platform. Tools like LastPass or Dashlane can help you keep track of that long list of login information!

Out with the Old

It's a harsh reality - more friends mean more hackable accounts, increasing the odds that you will be sent a malicious link. Unfriend or unfollow anyone who does not appear to have an active account.

Beware of Attack Ads

In the first six months of 2020, people reported losing a record high of almost $117 million to scams that started on social media. If you see an enticing ad, think before you click. Google the company's name next to "scam" to see if any results are generated. Don't worry about missing out on that amazing deal. You can locate all social ads the company is running by visiting its Facebook page directly. Scroll to the Page Transparency section in the left navigation menu. Click the blue "See All" hyperlink in the top right corner. In the following menu, click the "Go to Ad Library" button. Voila!

Love Can Cost A Lot

Love is scary even without the scams. About half of all romance scams reported since 2019 started on social media, usually on Facebook or Instagram. Look out for these romance red flags:

  • Your sweetheart is living outside of the U.S.; and
  • Is in need money for travel, medical expenses or a similar emergency; and
  • Asks you to send money by wire, cash reload cards or gift cards.

Finally, beware of suspicious requests for information. Remember, Ameris Bank will never ask for your Social Security number, account information, passwords, PINs or other personally identifiable information via any social media property. If you spot a social media scam, report it to the social media site, your financial institution (if applicable) or the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Christa Robbins is the social media specialist for Ameris Bank. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Bradford and their two dogs. She enjoys walking her dogs, going to the movies and cheering on her favorite football teams.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Ameris Bank does not endorse nor is affiliated with the companies listed in this article.

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