by: Alex Thomas Sadler Updated:
Americans rely on their smartphones and the internet for pretty much everything these days — and unfortunately, it’s making it easier for criminals to catch people off guard.
Meanwhile, social media has become an increasingly effective way for companies of all sizes to communicate with customers — not only as a marketing tool, but also as a way to answer questions and deal with customer service issues.
So instead of calling or sending an email, many consumers will now contact a company via Facebook or Twitter — maybe to ask a question or file a complaint. And since many companies are prepared for these situations, it’s not surprising when you get a response.
The problem is, do you really know who sent that response?
Read more: 7 text messages to always ignore
Criminals impersonating companies to steal your info
Unfortunately, criminals do a great job of impersonating real companies and government agencies — using fake websites, emails, text messages and other methods of communication.
Now, they’re using phony social media accounts to trick consumers into handing over their personal information.
Here’s how it works: when a consumer contacts a company, or maybe their bank, on social media asking for help, a scammer responds to the person directly — prompting the user to click on a link to a fake website. Then when you get to the site, it looks just like the real thing — allowing criminals to convince unsuspecting consumers to enter their personal information in order to “get their issue resolved.”
One of the biggest problems with internet fraud is that criminals can make these websites and accounts look exactly like the official ones — which is why it is so crucial that consumers take steps to protect themselves online.
How to protect yourself
Scammers are everywhere these days, constantly coming up with new ways to infiltrate your daily activities. So when it comes to protecting yourself on social media, and from internet fraud in general, there are a few things you need to keep in mind!
Never post or share this information on social media:
- Birth date
- Mother’s maiden name
- Family members’ full names
- Phone number
- Social Security number
- When you’re going on vacation
If criminals get their hands on any of this information, it puts them one step closer to being able to access your accounts and other sensitive data.
Never text, email or give over the phone this information:
- Social Security number
- Credit card information
- Copy of your driver’s license; driver’s license number
- PIN codes or passwords
- Any type of payment method containing your sensitive info
More tips to protect yourself:
- Beware of this text message scam that appears to be from your bank
- New Facebook scam to watch out for
- Free virus and malware protection guide
7 effective ways to protect your money