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Fake targeted ads on social media
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Scam alert: Avoid these personalized ads on social media

Scammers will use any means to steal your money and information, and social media is an ideal platform to find new victims. The biggest social networks have billions of users, so even a tiny percentage who aren’t careful offer up a huge target.

Social media can be used for good when it comes to charity and donations for those facing disaster and unfortunate events. But crooks have seized on this and are targeting would-be good Samaritans. Tap or click here to read how bots are cloning Twitter accounts to scam donations from others via payment services.

Now the Better Business Bureau is warning about misleading ads on social media. The ads promote personalized products and are prime bait for holiday shoppers. Click on them, and you may not get what you’re expecting.

Here’s the backstory

The window to get your holiday shopping done is shrinking, and you may be tempted to try just about anything to get the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Personalized gifts are a great way to show someone you care, but be careful how you go about finding one.

The BBB reported misleading ads circulated on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. The scam involves ads depicting personalized products such as clothing and keychains.

Clicking the ad link takes you to a company website to make the purchase. This may all go smoothly, but it’s not close to what you expected when you receive the product. The quality may be poor, or the product will contain errors or be completely wrong.

You may receive nothing at all.

Customer service will be spotty if you can even contact them. They may assure you that they will resolve the problem, but that’s a lie. And good luck getting your money back.

What to do (or not do)

The BBB provided some tips to avoid these types of scams:

  • Research the company before buying. Before entering personal information to a website, research the company thoroughly. Examine the website. Poor quality images, images found on other websites, and spelling and grammatical errors are all red flags. A real business should have valid contact information (i.e., a working phone number and customer service email address). If the business has a physical address, research it on Google or Apple Maps. Next, look to see if they have a profile on BBB.org.
  • Look for reviews on other websites. Read as many reviews as possible from websites besides the company selling the item. Keep an eye out for customer complaints. Search the business name in a trusted search engine along with the word “scam” to see if others have reported the business as a fake.
  • Pay with a credit card. Use a credit card instead of a debit card, since it’s easier to dispute fraudulent charges with a credit card and there is a better chance of getting a refund. 

Another social media scam

CNBC is reporting fake Instagram accounts pushing fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes. Scammers are creating imposter accounts to lure others into phony crypto investments.

One victim told CNBC that other scam victims contacted him directly and even threatened him, thinking he was behind the scheme.

Reporting fraudulent accounts may get them taken down, but more can emerge. That’s why social media platforms need stricter regulations and monitoring to prevent these types of scams. Check out the full report from CNBC here.

🚨 What it means for you

Social media might be the primary tool you use to keep in touch with family and friends, but it’s also increasingly being flooded with scammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims — often through targeted ads.

✅ Do your homework before clicking on any ads you see on social media sites: If it’s something that looks too good to be true or seems suspicious, move on. Watch out for heavily-discounted products and promises of free services like internet access.

✅ Also use caution when selling things through platforms like Facebook Marketplace. Crooks will reach out, pretending to be interested in your item, then try to get you caught up in a clever scam using Google Voice. Tap or click here for details.

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