Scammers are getting smarter and more devious. If you're one of Facebook's 2 billion users, or if you use Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, scammers are getting better at stealing your money.
You're smart enough to not fall victim to many scams. If you're a regular Komando.com reader, you know you should not click on Facebook posts for free airline tickets, fast-food coupons or chat with a U.S. soldier looking for love.
Once you click on these scams, you're often directed to bogus websites that look real. There, they ask for your credit card information. Or you're tricked into sharing personal information with someone you trust.
These days, your gut gives you a warning when you see one of these scams. Unfortunately for your family and you, scammers have a slew of new ways to steal your money. And, while they're still on Facebook, they've expanded to other social networking sites.
Here are five social media scams you must know about. Please share this news with all of your Facebook friends so they're safe, too.
1. Friends Who Spy on You
We've told you that it's pretty easy for hackers to create forged social media accounts. They copy-and-paste photos of people you know and create profiles that match your friend's interests.
These days, scammers are using sites like LinkedIn to keep an eye on your company. Often, they'll use a photo of a former colleague or maybe someone at another company you deal with.
They'll create a profile and watch your colleagues and you. If they gather enough information about something like an upcoming wire transfer, they can launch an email phishing scam to intercept the money.
2. A New Way to Get Rich Quick
Have you seen ads on Twitter and other sites for a "starter kit" to make money? The scammers aren't crystal clear about how it works, but they promise that it's easy to earn extra cash on the site.
There's a double-pronged catch here. First, you have to pay for the start kit, perhaps $50 or so. Second, and worse, they secretly continue to charge your credit card every month.
3. Customer Support Gone Bad
There's a good side to this scam. Specifically, a lot of companies are scanning social media sites for bad reviews. If they can nip a problem in the bud, they can prevent a lot of embarrassment and possibly prevent customers from canceling their service.
You may have been approached on social media by a representative for your cable TV company, for example. "Is everything OK?"
You can guess how this can turn into a scam. Scammers create fake profiles to make them look like representatives for real companies. The scam is, they may ask you for your credit card to schedule a service call.
4. You're a Winner
Do NOT fall for this tempting scam. If you use Instagram or other social media sites, you might see a little graphic that says you've won a contest. But if you click on it, they'll insert malware onto your device.
5. Is your friend really your friend?
You know that scientists have been trying to clone animals for years. They've had some success creating exact duplicates of sheep and other animals. But advances in cloning are slow and riddled with problems.
In the virtual world, though, cloning is easy. Scammers just copy your real friends' profiles to fool you into sharing personal information.
Here's what you need to do: Follow your gut. If your friends don't sound like themselves, or they're asking you to buy something, contact that friend by phone. Give them a call to make sure it's the same person you're chatting with on social media.