Who knew love and online shopping could hurt so bad?
Your online safety is important to us. We want to keep you informed about potential scams and fraudulent practices. The internet is wonderful, helpful, entertaining, and sometimes, unfortunately, nasty. According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data spotlight report, $770 million dollars were lost by consumers in 2021 due to social media scams.
It’s easy to think you would never fall victim to this, but the 95,000 reported cases of fraud via social media ad, post, or message might say otherwise. It’s a fact that one quarter of all reported frauds originated on social media. These numbers show that social media is the easiest and most profitable way for scammers to dupe their online victims. Other scamming methods don’t even come close. Website and app scams brought in about $554 million and phone call scams cost consumers $546 million. By our math, social media fraud costs an average of $8,105 per victim.
And it might be really easy to think that only older people get ripped off. Oh, Millennials and Gen Z, pride does come before the fall. According to the FTC report, users ranging in ages of 18-39 were “more than twice as likely as older adults to report losing money to these scams in 2021.”
How are scammers effectively using social media? Two very sneaky ways:
- Fake love. The plan looks a little something like this:
- Establish a relationship on a dating app or over social media.
- Suggest that their “significant other” invests in cryptocurrency.
- Guide the victim to a fake site where they can invest. Some even go so far as to provide an initial return on investment to persuade their victim to invest even more.
- Get every penny they can, and then disappear when the investments stop coming in.
What’s unique and so effective about this scam? It’s so personal. Unlike previous popular scams (ex: sending money to a Nigerian prince), victims feel that they are engaging in investments with someone they know and trust. Don’t believe us? Check out “The Tinder Swindler” — a true story about online dating.
- Online shopping. Fake targeted ads that show on your social media can often lead consumers to purchase products from companies that don’t even exist. In fact, this type of scam is the most common, accounting for 45% of social media fraud reports.
What can you do?
- Be wary on Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram. These are the most common social media platforms used for scams.
- Set your accounts to private and avoid posting personal information.
- Opt out of targeted ads. Here’s how.
- If you do click an ad or get sent to an investment website, do a quick online search to find out more information and back up their validity.
- Never send money to someone you have not met in person.
Just a few extra precautions can save you thousands of dollars. Be wise. Be safe. Bloomer Telephone Company would never solicit personal or financial information via social media. If you are ever contacted by someone saying he/she is a Bloomer employee and you are suspicious, please call us at 715-568-4830.