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When Is It Best To Not Be Too Social? – Staying Safe and Secure When Using Social Media

Christine Stone, RN    Clinical Liaison

One statistic shows that 64 percent of folks over age 50 spend some time on the internet and

Facebook.    But beware!  There are cleverly devious people out there who are intent on separating you from your money and personal information.   As reported by a prominent social media security company, Fraud and “Phishing” scams have more than doubled in the past year!   How do these clever criminals do it?   Read on:

  1. Fake Freebies and Discounts. Scammers set up a bogus social media page that looks like those of legitimate companies.  They claim to offer free or very cheap products and services.   They collect your name, address, phone number, email address, credit card number, and other information to be used for identity theft or sold to other criminals on the black market.   You will never receive the so-called “free” item or service, but you can be sure your information will be used illegally.
  2. Contests and Surveys Swindles. In these schemes you are promised a prize for completing and online survey.   The crooks are able to search deeper for your personal information – including occupation, income, spending habits.
  3. Twitter Tricks.  Crooks add an extra character to a corporate name, creating a fake website.  If you’re not looking closely, the fake web site looks just like the real one. For example:  You receive a legitimate looking email from your bank asking you to login your account.  The scammer is closely monitoring for any responses.  A link to the fake website is provided.  You logon to that site and your account number and password is requested.   Once you’ve given over that information, you’ve essentially given the crook full access to your accounts.
  4. Live-Stream Lies. Some TV programs, sporting events and movies are “streamed”  online.   Free viewing is promised, but when you click on the link, a website will demand credit card information before viewing can start.  This is the lure of the “free trial” and “cancel at any time” trick.    Chances are you’ll never see the program, but don’t be surprised to see monthly charges on your credit card statement.
  5. Gossip. Your curiosity about a celebrity or sports star can get you into real trouble.  The celebrity name along with the terms “pictures” or ”videos” are used to lure you into checking on the links.  But before you can view the “scandalous” pictures you’ll have to provide your name and credit card information.

So what can you do to stay safe on the internet and other forms of social media?

  • Your best protection is to always use common sense. If it seems too good to be true – it is! 
  • Go directly to a manufacturer’s official website for free offers and special deals.
  • Be careful what you click on – especially “pop up” offers and other unsolicited emails.
  • Spend the money and install a quality internet security program on your computer that scans for viruses, malware, and prevents pop-up ads. Set it to run scans on a regular schedule. 

Finally, as they used to say on the TV show “Hill Street Blues” – Be safe out there.