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Pull the plug on social media scammers

Proof of social media’s explosive popularity is in the numbers. As of 2019, the majority of U.S. adults use Facebook (69%) and YouTube (73%), while the numbers are even higher for young adults – 75% frequent Instagram and 90% visit YouTube.

With the growth of social media, online scams have evolved. To stay safe online, learn to recognize these three common social media scams.

Scam #1: Social media phishing

In this common scam, a fraudulent social media profile may impersonate a reputable company by using the company’s name and logo to convince people to share their personal or financial information. These fraudulent posts often link to spoofed websites that prompt you to log in with your username and password, a ploy for scammers to steal your credentials to access your account.

Beware of fraudulent social media quizzes and other applications that lure victims with clever questions such as: “Which celebrity do you look like?” When you launch a quiz app, you may be giving a third party access to your profile data that could be used to hijack your online identity.

Scam #2: Card cracking/job scams

In this scenario, scammers use social media to post opportunities to make "easy money". They typically request your debit card and PIN and/or mobile banking username and password to deposit a fake check into your account. They may ask you to report your card lost or stolen or that your credentials have been compromised in order to seek reimbursement from your bank. In exchange, scammers promise you a portion of the funds you deposit.

After gaining access to your account, scammers can transfer funds or deposit phony checks and quickly make withdrawals before your bank identifies the bad checks. Not only are you robbed of your money, but you may also face hefty fines and criminal charges because your participation in this scheme makes you a co-conspirator.

In another type of scam, victims are promised a high-paying job in return for a small “advance fee” to secure a position that doesn’t actually exist. 

Scam #3: Online dating

Scammers have been known to create fake social media profiles and use the promise of love to trick naive victims into sending them money. They may use a fictional name or falsely assume the identities of aid workers, military personnel, or other professionals working abroad.

Once they have gained your trust, they may claim to need funds for an emergency or other hardship and convince you to provide your account information or wire money before disappearing.

Some telltale signs of this scam include poor or vague communication, flowery language, a small number of Facebook pictures and posts, or a Twitter account with just a few tweets.

Tips to help avoid social media scams

  • Do set your profiles to private and restrict your social media contacts to people you know personally.
  • Do be on the lookout for suspicious posts, including limited-time offers, discounts that seem too good to be true, and requests for personal or account information, especially via a quiz.
  • Do be wary of individuals you meet through social media sites, especially if they promise romance.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.
  • Don’t respond to online solicitations for “easy money.”
  • Don’t click on suspicious links, even in posts from people you know – their account may have been hijacked.
  • Don’t overshare on social media by providing information used by your bank or other companies to verify your identity.
  • Don’t fill out every field on your social media profile such as your phone number and home address – including these details increases the chance of identity theft.
  • Don’t log into social media sites while on public Wi-Fi – many are poorly secured, which could enable scammers to intercept personal data.

If you come across a social media account impersonating Wells Fargo, report it on Twitter to @Ask_WellsFargo or send us a private message on Facebook at‡.

See more warning signs of common scams.

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