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Ways to Stay Safe and Secure When Using Social Media

Christine Stone, RN

If you use a computer or a Smart phone, you might also be using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Texting.  It’s a great way to share messages and photos with family, grandkids and friends.  But BEWARE!  There are a lot of scams and fraudulent activity associated with social media.  Criminals will try to get your personal information, login credentials, or credit card numbers.  Here are a few of the ways these clever criminals will try to separate you from your money.

Fake Freebie and Discounts.   Scammers set up fake social media accounts that look like legitimate companies.  They’ll offer free or very inexpensive products and services.   Their mission:  collect your name, email address phone & credit card numbers, and other pertinent information.  The information will be used for identity theft or will be sold to other crooks on the black market.  Think about those messages you’ve received from an attorney representing a widow in Africa, offering you 50% of her inheritance if you just send $5,000.   Really?  I know there’s a sucker born every day.  But don’t YOU be that sucker!  

Other ways they try to get your money is to require you to pay the shipping and handling on the so-called freebie gift.  You’ll pay the shipping & handling fees and never receive anything.

Celebrity Gossip Sites.  Websites associated with a celebrity’s name will lure you in offering “censored”, or “x-rated” videos or photos.   By clicking on these tantalizing tidbits you are unknowingly linked to a website which will ask for your credit card information.  Worse yet, they will have YOUR email address or phone number from which they can hack into your email accounts.

Contests & Surveys.   In these schemes, the crooks will ask you to complete an online survey.   Their goal is to get more and more information about you:  your interests, your occupation, your income and spending habits.

Other Twitter Tricks.    You receive what looks to be a legitimate email from your bank.  In actuality, the fake website  has a similar, but slightly different web address.   Once you click on the web link and enter your login and password information, you’ve given the crooks access to ALL of your account information, plus now they have your login and password for the future access to your accounts.

Over-Sharing.    It’s great to share good news with family and friends.  But don’t brag about your new jewelry, your new 70-inch flat screen TV, or your plans to be away on vacation.   Anyone who happens to be illegally monitoring your account (or your recipient’s account) will know everything about you.  If they also happen to have your address, you could be the target of burglary.

What Can You Do To Prevent Being Victim of a Cyber Hack?  

  • Your best protection is common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • NEVER, EVER give your credit card information, social security or bank account numbers on the internet or smart phone.
  • If you need to contact your bank or any other company, NEVER click on the link they send you.  This may take you to one of those fake /imposter sites.   Instead, directly enter the web address you’re your internet browser.   It might seem like a lot of effort, but this is the safest way to be sure your email is getting to its intended recipient.
  • Don’t be fooled the promise of FREE. Remember the saying “There’s no free lunch?”   Well, it’s true!  Anyone who is contacting you