No Treat to This Trick: Beware of Social Media Scams




We live in a time where we are constantly connected to social media. Sites like Facebook help us to stay in touch with friends, see top trends as well as run businesses and pass the time reading and taking quizzes.


However, being social butterflies on these popular sites comes with a very dark side. Cyber criminals are lurking and waiting for their next victim, and they are obviously going to what is most popular, social media.


October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). This effort was created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance to ensure that everyone stays safe and secure online.


In order to help you avoid a social media scam, here are three social media scams going on today.


Cash Grab


While social media makes it very easy to stay in touch with old friends, how well do you know those new friends you are adding? Rule of thumb should always be to know who they are before adding to your friends list. It can be hard to determine who we know in this community. Many times if the amount of acquaintance we have between us is enough, we just add without doing any research. Military spouse and blogger Rebecca C. says, “As a traveling military spouse I sometimes add people thinking they belong to our community. One day I received an urgent request for money from a friend who claimed they lost their wallet and were stranded on vacation. While I did know this friend, I immediately sent them a text message and they didn’t know anything about the message sent.”


This is happening more and more today as cyber criminals are hacking into accounts and gaining access to our contacts. This is typically caused by a malware-infected device. Before acting on it, do what Rebecca did and call your friend.


Hidden Charges


“Let us guess your age! Take the quick quiz here!” Have you ever seen these? Have you ever taken them? It is tempting to take the quiz, isn’t it? Especially since you see a majority of your friends taking it and sharing. Be very careful with the information you are putting online. Many of these quizzes prompt you to enter your cell phone or directly link to Facebook in order to share to your newsfeed. Two things are wrong here: one, the cell phone number you just entered could now be subscribed to some dubious service that will charge you $9.95 every month on your bill. This is called bait-and-switch and they are all over social media. Two, this quiz site now has access to your Facebook page and all your contacts. This could lead to malware and a possible phishing scam to your friends list.


Be vigilant and keep all your personal information to yourself.




The most common email-based attack is phishing. Phishing is when a cyber-criminal sends an email claiming to be from either your bank or another business. The overall plot here is to trick you into providing some type of personal information such as a password or even social security number.


If you see an email with a compressed zip file, DON’T OPEN IT! This is also a popular phishing scam to get into your computer and obtain all sorts of personal information. How about those emails that come and promise you a job? Sadly, vulnerable job-seekers out there often fall for it.


USAA offers these 4 anti-phishing tactics to help you stay safe.


  • Roll your cursor over any URL sent in an email to reveal where it really goes. The text displayed may be different from the actual destination.
  • Beware any URL that is excessively long or uses numbers instead of a traditional URL format.
  • Confirm the email you received is from USAA. Make sure your name and the last four digit the Security Zone, which is the top right box of every legit email USAA sends. This should include your name and the last four digits of your member number.
  • Never open emails that don't include your actual email address in the "To:" line. Fakes are often addressed in mass to dozens of email addresses. 


Have you ever received an obvious social scam? What tactics do you have for staying safe online?



Top 5 social media scams by Norton


Related Posts:

3 Things to Know About Social Media Scams

Watch Out for These 5 High-Tech Scams

Stay Vigilant Against These 4 Cyberscams

5 Things You Can Do to Fight Against Identity Theft


About the blogger: Angela Caban is an Army National Guard spouse, published author and branding expert. In 2010, she founded the Homefront United Network, a military spouse and family support blog created to assist spouses who do not live near an installation, but also focusing on bridging the gap between National Guard, Reserve and Active Duty spouses. She has an extensive background in Human Resources and Communications, with her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Human Resources. Angela resides in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey with her husband and two children.