Scamwatch: social media fraud

Social networking sites can be a goldmine for fraudsters

Updated: 
Data protection
Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, social media fraud that can be used to access your personal details and steal your money - or even your identity.

How does it work?

Social media profiles on websites such as Facebook and Twitter are a potential goldmine of information for fraudsters.

Even simple information such as your name and date of birth can be useful to unscrupulous criminals trawling the web looking for potential victims.

Some fraudsters will set up fake profiles to try to befriend you, while there is also evidence of them creating bogus profiles for users who do exist.

Other types of social media fraud include trojan malware scams designed to allow those behind them to access your personal data, change your internet browser settings and even hijack your mobile phone number.

Just this month, criminals used a scam of this kind to trick Facebook users lured in by the prospect of seeing actress Emma Watson naked.

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How can I avoid being caught out?

To avoid making yourself an easy target for social media fraudsters, it is sensible to limit the information on your profiles - particularly that available to people you do not know.

On Facebook, for example, it is a good idea to keep your date of birth hidden.

Other tips include only accepting friend requests from people you know, keeping your firewall on and up to date and being wary of links you are asked to click on to access potentially dodgy content.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

If you are caught out by a scam linked to a website such as Twitter, you should report the incident to the website so that it can take action to prevent other people being taken in.

You should also report it to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040), and of course stop all communication with the fraudster immediately.

Finally, change any passwords and log in details that may have been compromised if you have been hit with a malware attack.

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