This National Fraud Week we’re helping Australians identify common social media scams that happen on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Nowadays, social networking sites, online forums and messenger apps are a part of our daily lives and they can be great for catching up with friends and family wherever and whenever you want. However, some people use social media to scam others, steal personal information and identities or even harass, embarrass or attack users online.
Last year Scamwatch statistics showed that reports of social networking scams grew by 79% compared to the previous year. In total, Australians lost more than $9.5 million to social media scams in 2016. A huge chunk of the $9.5 million lost was due to dating and romance scams; they accounted for $7.5 million of losses and were the most widely reported across every age group. Amongst the other most reported social media scams were fake trader scams and buying and selling scams.
Unfortunately, social media scams target Australians of all ages but last year, those aged 55 and over lost the most per scam – nearly $18,000 on average. Those aged 18-24 lost an average of $1,000 each. Women made up 62% of the $9.5 million lost, losing an average of $8,956; comparatively male victims lost an average of $4,734.
To avoid being stung by a social media scam, take the following precautions recommended by Scamwatch:
- Be careful about what information you put online and who you allow to see it. People may be able to see more about you than you realise. Take the time to understand exactly what your account shows about you to the public.
- Remember that people are not always who they say they are online. Do not accept invitations from people you don’t know and use your social networking site's privacy settings to limit access to your information for ‘friends’ you don’t know well.
- Never click on suspicious links – even if they appear to have been sent from your friends, as their social media account may have been hacked.
- Protect your social media accounts with strong, unique passwords, and have a different password for each social networking site so that if one password is stolen, not all of your accounts will be at risk.
For more information on how to spot social media scams, head to: staysmartonline.gov.au. #FraudWeek2017
Please note: the facts and figures referenced in the above copy were compiled by the Australian government initiative Stay Smart Online.