COVID-19: Social Media Scams to watch out for

COVID-19: Social Media Scams to watch out for

Our financial and fraud specialists pick out some of the social media scams that are on the rise during lockdown.

During lockdown, people are spending an increasing amount of time on social media. That's understandable - it's a great way to keep in touch with those we miss while staying up-to-date with what's going on in the world. But it also offers an avenue for fraud and financial crime that criminals can't resist.

Of course, using social media isn't dangerous in itself, but you must be vigilant. Do not allow boredom or broader uncertainty make it easier for fraudsters to find you.

Things to be aware of:

Gift Cards

> Supermarkets are NOT giving away gift cards to anybody who shares a link.

Take time to look at the profile. If you see a picture of a store exterior or logo, the site has not been set up by the supermarket.  Sharing these links may download malware to your computer that can steal your information or allow a third-party to access the data on your profile.

Unclaimed Prizes

Bad news, I'm afraid:

> Debbie from Aberdeen did not forget to pick up her top of the range car or free, all-inclusive holiday!

Sharing these links can be extremely dangerous and risks the theft of your personal information, such as bank log-in details.

Marketplace Deals

> That's a bargain.

Items up for sale at less than market value can look like a great deal -  but remember, if something seems too good to be true it usually is!  Be cautious if you're asked to secure a sale with a deposit and always try to seek payment for an item when you receive it.  Don't be tricked into paying courier fees for goods that may never arrive.

Unexpected Prizes

> You're a lucky winner.

If you didn't enter a competition, you haven't won a prize.  It is that simple, so don't be swayed by attempts to make it appear genuine.

Click Bait

> 'Shocking videos!' 'amazing weight loss results!'

We've all seen the articles that lure us in... But clicking on these links can download malware which can spread through your devices and onto your contacts.  If you are interested in an article, search for it on a legitimate site.

Online Quizzes and Challenges

*> 'Post your 10 favourite songs', 'Share 10 significant dates in your life'. *

These can be a great distraction, but they may as well say: 'Give me 10 clues to your password'. There is no harm in taking part in many of these challenges, but you must be conscious of what you post at all times and make sure your privacy settings are robust.

Treat Online as Real Life

> The only safe approach to using social media.

As with many things in this list, it sounds simple. If somebody approached you in the street and told you that you could win a free car and all you had to do was tell the next 10 people you walked past, you wouldn't fall for it.

Similarly, if a stranger asked you for the name of your favourite band and your first pet, you'd pause before disclosing the information. But as soon as people go online, their behaviour changes. Just remember: if you wouldn't share information in real life, then please do not share it online.

Stay safe, stay alert, stay free from fraud!

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