Social media continues to transform the way people connect. A variety of social media platforms allow us to share information and ideas with each other openly. A downside, however, is that scammers use these social channels to trick people. Scammers often create fake profiles, befriend innocent people, and send spam messages or links that lead to malicious websites.  Other social media scams are where consumers buy a product that is never delivered or they unknowingly are lured into an unwanted subscription.

How to tell if it’s an online scam

Unfortunately, scammers have become more sophisticated, which makes it more difficult to spot a scammer.

There are warning signs to look out for on social media. Be wary if:

  • Someone you don’t know wants to add you as a friend
  • You get asked to click on a link and enter your details
  • You’re made an offer that seems too good to be true
  • You’re asked to fill out a survey or enter a competition online
  • You’re offered items for sale at a much lower price than elsewhere
  • The logo and online identity look fake
  • A suspicious post keeps popping up on your feed

Customer service scams

Some scammers pose as customer care agents online. They target consumers who have complained online by contacting the person directly pretending to represent the organisation involved and asking for personal information such as bank details.

A recent trend on X (Twitter) is the emergence of “blue tick scamming”. Changes introduced by the rebranded platform mean anyone who pays a monthly subscription can get a blue tick added to their account without having to prove who they are. Previously, this blue check mark indicated a verified company or account. Displaying this blue tick scammers can fool people into believing they’re legitimate.

Follow these golden rules

There are ways to uncover a fake profile:

  • Check to see when the account was set up; long-established accounts are less likely to be scammers
  • Check how many followers it has; a low number suggest it may be fake
  • Check whether the logo or image seems legitimate; scammers use copies
  • Check are there any changes, even very slight ones, to the wording of the account tagged
  • Never click on any suspicious links that are sent to you

Top tip: before interacting with a business’s account, check the website for links to their social media accounts. This will help you ensure the account is genuine.

Caught out by a social media scam?

If you have responded to an approach or request on social media and given your bank account details, notify your bank or card issuer immediately. Your account can be placed on hold and card cancelled if necessary.

You should also report it to your local police.