The honchos over at Facebook will be relieved to hear the mega social media site isn’t the backdrop for the latest story on fraudulent happenings. It’s true, scammers around the globe have found other platforms from which they can take advantage of unsuspecting folks.
Although tips are available to help protect your personal data from sites such as Facebook, there are others you may be visiting, unaware of who is lurking about in the hopes of stealing your identity or money.
How can you safeguard from this happening to yourself or your loved ones? Here are some methods scammers are using to get to you along with ways to protect yourself.
That neighbor next door might not be who they claim
There is nothing like being neighborly and connecting with those in your local area. Nextdoor makes sharing information with your neighbors simple. You sign up, verify you live in the community for which you are registering, and you can chat about the goings-on in the neighborhood.
While this platform can be a valuable resource for finding local help for a project, lost pet notifications or warning neighbors of suspicious activity on the block, this networking site has seen its fair share of scammers profiting from innocent people.
A recent Buzzfeed report detailed the story of an elderly customer who paid thousands of dollars upfront to only have a contractor run off with her money without performing any work. Other tales of fraud on Nextdoor include a woman who stole the identity of a local nanny and proceeded to con families into hiring her as a provider of childcare.
Then, of course, the stories of fake car sales continue to make headlines. Many buyers have been duped into paying for nonexistent vehicles, often with hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of gift cards.
Want to read more about this car scam? Take a look at our article 6 ways to tell if a car for sale is fake.
Watch out for fake insurance or realtor sites
Ever visit a new or lesser-known insurance or realtor website to obtain a quote or additional company or program information? While the sites appear legitimate, they may be designed for the sole purpose of collecting and selling sensitive data including your address, driver’s license, birth date, and social security number.
Before trusting unknown websites like this, make sure to do a quick internet search to find reviews on these companies. If there is a scam site you'll most likely find someone online complaining about it.
Fraudsters lurking in Google Hangouts
Those looking for employment find themselves using any number of apps and platforms, including Google Hangouts, in the hopes of reaching prospective employers.
Scammers using this app convince you to discuss the job and hiring process via Google Hangouts instead of more popular, secure social media platforms. Once in Hangouts, the fraudster will ask for personal and banking information, under the guise it is for the department, or Human Resources use.
LinkedIn is another platform that has unsuspecting job seekers fall victim to scammers. These hackers pose as genuine employers or those who have interests in common in the hopes of connecting with you.
Once in your LinkedIn network, they have access to your email address and will send you phishing emails that contain malware or get you to provide sensitive information, including login credentials.
When you look to do the right thing and support those in need, it is disheartening to learn those you helped out weren’t in need after all. It was a ruse set up as a legitimate GoFundMe campaign.
This scenario has played out more than a few times on the fundraising site, including the scheme in which a couple assisted a military vet living on the streets only to split the money between the three of them and frivolously spend every penny of funds that were intended to help the veteran get back on his feet.
Ways to protect yourself and loved ones
Now that you are aware of the platforms scammers utilize to pilfer your identity or money, you may be wondering what measures you can take to protect yourself and loved ones from becoming a target.
Here are ten tips from the Better Business Bureau to help you avoid scams:
- Never send money to someone you have never met face-to-face.
- Don’t click on links or open attachments in an unsolicited email.
- Don’t believe everything you see.
- Don’t buy online unless the transaction is secure.
- Be extremely cautious when dealing with anyone you’ve met online.
- Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, on social media, even at your front door.
- Don’t be pressured to act immediately.
- Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods, services, taxes, and debts.
- Whenever possible, work with local businesses.
- Be cautious about what you share on social media.
If you have been scammed, it is crucial you take the following actions:
- Contact authorities
- Notify your bank or credit card issuers
- File a fraud alert with credit bureaus
- File a complaint with the FTC
- Scan and update your computer
Best app for getting around town
While many favor Google Maps to help them navigate the roads, Waze is another useful GPS app you may want to try.