Joe Bloggs has sent you a friend request.
Joe Bloggs? Hmm not sure I know him… it could be the guy I was talking to in the bar last night. Though, I’m pretty sure he was called Simon. Oh, maybe it’s my housemate’s cousin who I met that one time… Not sure his surname was Bloggs though. I’ll just add him anyway!
According to statistics, 99% of young people use social media each week. This is in part due to the fact that by nature, the likes of Facebook, Twitter and even Linkedin are platforms for friends to connect and share. But the question still remains- how well do we really know anyone on social media?
We can often become so absorbed in showcasing our lives (and stalking everyone else's), that we miss the signs that are glaring us in the face that some people are not who they say they are. Often, fraudsters (as in, people trying to scam you) can befriend you and scan your profile to gather as much data as they can which they will then use to steal your identity and apply for things like credit cards in your name. Take a look at this video from Barclays which shows how easily someone can steal your identity- it’s worrying to say the least.
And this isn’t the only type of cyber crime you should be wary of. Take this example:
New Message from Jane Smith
Hey mate, I’ve got into a bit of a mess and spent all my money this month. I’m literally so skint. Any chance you could lend me £50? I’ll pay you back straight away.
Bit weird that Jane is asking for money. She lives with her parents and she’s on a really good wage. And to be honest, we’re not even best mates so surely there are other people she can ask. Hmmm… I’ll just give it to her, maybe she is really desperate.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation before? Sometimes, fraudsters can compromise an existing account and the malware-infected computer that they’ve hacked into then forwards a message to all of the contacts on social media and basically waits for someone to bite (and some warm-hearted person almost always does).
As a rule of thumb, if you receive any messages off anyone on social media asking for money or for any bank details don’t respond. Instead, contact that individual directly offline and ask if they sent you that message. Try to think logically- would your mate Jane, or someone you don’t even know that well, message you on say, Twitter, asking for you to send money? It just isn't how most people would behave is it?
So, just to be clear, here are some measures you can take to protect yourself:
- Don't share any of your personal details over social media. No one really needs to know the year you were born, your address or your bank details (ever).
- Regularly check your privacy settings on your social accounts. You should know who can see what.
- Always question messages regarding money and bank details.
- If in doubt, say no to that friend request and ignore any suspicious or unusual messages.
- If you suspect that someone is committing fraudulent activity with your account or directly trying to involve you, then report it to the social media platform directly.
- Or for more advice and to report fraud please contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.