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Cheryl Parson: Social media scams cause problems in the real world

We used to get together with friends and family live and in person. We had people over for dinner, backyard barbecues, anniversaries and birthday parties. Events kept us connected.

But nowadays, social media has gone a long way to keep us in contact with our friends and loved ones. We share photos of kids and grandkids, graduations, proms, sports events and even recipes. We private message each other when we don’t want the world to see our important communications.

Facebook alone helps more than 1.7 billion active monthly users. An estimated 90 million users check into Instagram at least once a month, and Pinterest recently announced that it has more than 100 million monthly active users.

Imagine all of these people communicating with each other without actually physically seeing or talking with each other! And therein lays the reason that scams have exploded on social media. Con artists can pose as anything from a government official to your grandson. We’ve listed several of the most prominent scams you should be looking out for as you browse your social media accounts.

• Facebook cloning. This is when a scammer copies your profile and cover photos, then sets up a Facebook account under your exact name. All at once your friends start receiving Friend Requests from that scammer who is now claiming to be you. If your friends accept this fake “Friend request,” they open themselves up to a wide array of scams, from bogus links that — when clicked — could install malware or other malicious attacks. Scammers also mine for information and sell it on the black market.

• Like and share this post to win! These Facebook scams are designed to trick victims into forking over “shipping costs” and “handling fees” for prizes that don’t exist.

• Disabled account messages. These email or private messages appear to be from your social media. The message contains links that connect to a fake webpage designed to look like your login page. The victim enters login information, and that information allows a scammer to take control of your Facebook account. Remember to always check the web address to make sure it’s actually coming from your social media site.

• Work from home/job offers. This scam outlines the details of high-paying jobs or work-at-home opportunities that can be performed from anywhere. Often the job is one centered on outbound calling, with a victim working for several weeks and never getting paid.

• Whaling/spearphishing scams. Con artists collect information from individual and company profile pages on sites such as LinkedIn. They use that information to trick those individuals and corporations to pay forged invoices and donations supposedly from actual companies.

Remember to be wary. Social media is a fast-paced environment. It’s easy to forget to take the time to think before clicking on a link or take advantage of a “special offer.” Criminals today can reach into our private lives, our homes and offices through social media.

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU

Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.

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