One question that everyone wants to know when it comes to scams and fraud is where is the greatest risk? When people are bombarded by criminals on email, over the phone, text and online it’s hard to know where to focus. And while it’s important to take every scam attempt seriously, consumers should realize that they are particularly susceptible on social media.
According to the Federal Trade Commission 25% of successful scams last year originated on a social media platform. In 2017 consumers lost $42 million to social media scams. Last year that total was $770 million – an 18-fold increase. Here are three warning signs of social media scams.
We are all targets
- Friend requests from people you don’t know. Think of your parents when surfing the web and “don’t talk to strangers.”
- Celebrities who want to connect with you. Scammers clone celebrity profiles and send personal messages offering investment opportunities or a chance to meet in person. This is a very successful criminal tactic so just remember, celebrities don’t really want to be your online friend.
- Anyone offering investment opportunities. Cryptocurrency scams are exploding, and they typically start when an online “friend” offers up an investment opportunity. Anytime someone you met online says “investment” or “crypto” it’s time to walk away.
If there is one thing everyone should understand, it’s that “scammers” are career criminals skilled at the art of manipulation and no one is immune. These crooks target people of any age; in fact, 41% of those who reported a fraud loss to the Federal Trade Commission last year were under the age of 30. So, what can a person do if they find out they’ve been victimized?
One resource is the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline. Every weekday, trained AARP volunteer fraud fighters are helping victims understand what happened, report the crime and start to put their lives back together. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam or fraud, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360 for support.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.
Visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call the AARP Fraud Watch Helpline at 1-877-908-3360.
Rosalie L. Calarco, a 17-year veteran of constituent services and advocacy under two federal officeholders, is the State Director for its Coastal Region, where she will work with AARP members in diverse populations across age, gender, socioeconomic status, culture, and ethnicity. Her service area will include 33 coastal and other counties in northeastern, eastern, and southeastern North Carolina.