There has been an increase in fraud involving social media, such as Facebook, in our local area. After a victim is friended by a scammer, the scammer goes out of his/her way to establish a friendship that the victim deems as legitimate. A lot of times, the scammer will take advantage of the good-naturedness of the targeted person, spinning tales that always involve requests for money. From there, the targeted individual, who believes he/she is helping out a new friend, is asked to wire funds or withdraw money. Many times, the scammer will go as far as to coach the victim on how to bypass security questions that are posed by his/her financial institution during the monetary transaction.
The American Bankers Association also offers the following information on how to avoid and/or respond quickly to scams:
- Don’t give your social security number or other personal credit information about yourself to anyone who contacts you.
- Don’t open email or attachments from unknown sources, and use virus detection software.
- Tear up receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Keep an eye out for any missing mail.
- Choose to do business with companies you know are reputable, particularly online. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active, indicating a secure transaction.
- Never give out personal financial information in an email.
- Never give out personal financial information over the phone unless you have initiated the contact.
- When using social networking sites, never include personal contact information including birth date, email addresses, physical address, mother’s maiden name or other information that could provide sensitive information to fraudsters or hints to passwords.
- Protect your PINs (don’t carry them in your wallet!) and passwords; use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically.