Social Media Scams Alert - Scams on Social Media

- Social media sites ask for, and often get, a large amount of personal information from users. Unfortunately, identity thieves may use that information to perpetuate scams, especially if you use personal information when creating security passwords.

If you have a public Facebook profile that gives your birth date and your parents' names and that kind of thing, they can provide the answers to security questions that your bank might have on its Web site. Even if your profile is private, identity thieves may find other ways to get your information.

Spammers, hackers, trying to sell products using fictitious profiles. Be careful about adding social networking "friends" you don't know in real life. And remember, just because a social media site asks for information doesn't mean you have to give it.

*** Never sending money to someone who asks for it over a social media service, there have been reports of scammers hijacking accounts and posing as friends.

Older Americans are increasingly active on social media, especially Facebook, which is used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults ages 50 to 64 and half of those age 65 and over, according to 2021 survey data from the Pew Research Center.

But be careful where you click: Fraud is prevalent on popular social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and getting more so.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 95,000 complaints in 2021 about scams that originated with social media ads, posts or messages, a six-fold increase since 2019. Those incidents cost consumers some $770 million, accounting for a quarter of fraud losses reported to the FTC in 2021 and making social media the most profitable way for scammers to reach consumers, the agency said in a January 2022 report.

Many of these cons simply put a social media spin on older online frauds. Romance scams, fake stores and bogus investments (often involving cryptocurrency) are rife on social networks, according to the FTC. Your social feeds might also be full of fake corporate giveaways, nonexistent government grants, supposed sweepstakes winnings and ads for questionable health aids, intended to get you to send money or click on malware-loaded links.

Crooks are also customizing social media cons for the coronavirus pandemic. They post bogus ads for COVID-19 testing or treatment, or hack Facebook accounts and, disguised as your actual friends or relatives, send out private messages with purported links to urgent health information or pandemic "relief grants."

Forgery. Loan fraud. Counterfeiting consequences and penalties are harsh. Six bad money habits.

Signing Someone Else's Name on a Check - Signing someone else's name on a check is generally considered forgery and would be illegal in most states. But suppose an adult child signs an elderly parent's name because the parent is incapacitated or a parent signs a child's name because the child is away at college. Guess what? Those signatures are still forgeries, unless a power of attorney is in effect.

Using Someone Else's Identity to Obtain Credit - The use of someone else's name and identity to obtain credit is an obvious no-no.

Lying on a Home Loan Application - Homebuyers and homeowners who want to refinance may be tempted to inflate their income or hide some of their debts to better their chances of a "yes" from the lender. But lying on a loan application is fraud, and lenders do check up on applicants' information, according to Kaplan.

Writing 'Bad' Checks - Many banks offer overdraft protection that kicks in if you write a check for more than the balance of your account. But writing a check that you know is no good is illegal.

Copying U.S. Currency - Color printers, scanners and copiers make it surprisingly easy for just about anyone to replicate U.S. or foreign currency. But it is, in fact, illegal to print your own money and try to spend it to buy goods or services.

Defacing U.S. Currency - Accidental damage to currency normally isn't illegal, deliberate defacement is. Federal law prohibits any action that mutilates, cuts, defaces, perforates or glues together U.S. currency or otherwise renders bills unusable.