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| Facebook and other large social media platforms try hard to create a digital space that you'd want to hang out in: pleasant, attractive and safe for you, friends, family and like-minded acquaintances to gather and share. But it is exactly this casual, upbeat feel that makes the major sites a ripe hunting ground for digital crooks. Here are some of the scams we at the AARP Fraud Watch Network have seen involving social media — as well as some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim.
This platform is in large part about following the photo and video posts of your favorite celebrities or hobbyists. But crooks can see who you follow, and often use personalized direct messages (DMs) based on your interests to hook you. For example, if you follow the hashtag #Spain, someone might DM you what looks like a bargain on cheap airline tickets to Madrid or Barcelona, but it may turn out to be a scam. Follow a celebrity and you might get a DM from someone pretending to be that celebrity, or a member of his or her team, asking for a charitable contribution.
Tip: Keep your profile settings secure. And don't respond to any unsolicited messages.
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It's supposed to be a place to chat with friends, share pictures and even make phone calls. But there have been recent reports of rip-offs originating there. The latest: employment scams. You've been talking on social media about looking for a job, for example, and you receive an email offering you a job and your first paycheck in advance. All you need to do is send a portion of it back for “application fees.” Of course, the check will bounce, and the job is a mirage.
Tip: You'll never be asked to send money to get a job. And no employer is going to pay you before the job starts. Avoid all offers like this.