According to Get Cyber Safe, roughly 156 million phishing emails are sent every day with about 16 million making it through filters and into your inbox. While you may think you’re too savvy to fall for an email scam, you might be overlooking your social media accounts. Simply hitting ‘Like’ on a Facebook photo could lead to sharing your information and aiding scammers in the process.
Community Support Scams
Adorable, vulnerable children with a balding head from chemo treatment pops up on your feed. Or maybe a soldier returning from Iraq surprises his wife and children to a highly emotional reunion. The photos encourage you to hit ‘Like’ to show you care and support the little girl and family. Instead, you just participated in a scam. Such photos are often found to be dated and never posted by the original people appearing in them. Instead, whoever is behind the posted photo simply amasses thousands of likes and then strips down the page of its original content. In its place, they might promote products and earn a commission for clicks or purchases. This type of scam is bad news for brands who legitimately want to post photos of a family in need to help raise money.
Watch the Magic
Facebook pages start exploding with a new game where you type a number and wait 3 seconds for “something” magic to happen. Instead, nothing happens except hundreds of people start sharing the post and trying it themselves. Like the photo scam, Facebook members are tricked into participating in a phishing tactic instead. The person behind it is trying to drive up comments to go viral and amass activity. They might be trying to sell a service or drive you to a Facebook page with strategically placed ads to a service, app or product they want you to buy. Soon, Facebook users may see the product or brand in question and think they’re behind the phishing scam.
Phishing Damages Brands
Brands can be damaged when phishers start a fake campaign linking to an incredible promotion, free getaway or prizes. Thousands of people hit ‘Like’ in hopes of winning the contest, only to share their information and spread the scam to friends when they see your activity in your feed.
Once burned, Facebook users may see the brand as disingenuous and responsible for the hoaxes. Or they may no longer trust any social media promotion from the brand and decline participating in the campaign. Once-loyal followers may even un-Like a brand’s page to avoid risking similar scams in the future.
Get Social Media Savvy
Even regular social media users and brands can fall victim to new and ingenious scams cleverly designed to take you by surprise. Err on the side of caution and don’t like photos and links unless posted from a verified source. Brands can stay safe by announcing promotions on their website or newsletters before posting to social media. Check with trusted sources for information on current scams and phishing trends. Companies like LifeLock usually have updates and tips to avoid scams or what to do if you fall victim to identity theft. They have a YouTube page as well as official social media pages like Facebook and Twitter. Or visit Facebook’s Help Center for more information on staying safe and recent scams.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.