Common new-era social media scams to watch out for  

As a student, you know how precious money is and how important it is to look after it. While there are many practical ways to go about it, including opening the best student bank account, you also need to know about scams to take your money.

But what exactly are scams? In simple terms, they are a criminal enterprise that someone undertakes to steal your money. Very often, these scams are very sophisticated and very believable which is why they are often successful.

Scams in the digital age

Although the internet and digital revolution which followed it has been positive, it has also made it easier for scammers to con people. The ease with which scammers can get their devious plans in front of people on a global scale now means that you are far more at risk than ever before.

This is especially true when engaging with social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. We all know how massive they are and how central they are to modern life. The problem is that they are easy to access and to use by scammers! That means you must always be on your guard when using social media sites.

What are the common social media scams?

By far the best way to avoid common scams happening in the new era on social media is to know what they look like. Here are five of the most widely seen for students to watch out for.

1. Forex scams

This huge financial markets sees over $5 trillion trades made each day and is a completely genuine place to invest money. However, it can also be a magnet for scammers wanting to con people. This is true on social media where you may have someone contact you directly, claiming to be an ‘expert’ Forex coach or investor.

This will usually be followed with a promise of large profits or access to a foolproof strategy if you pay them some money first. The problem is that, after you pay, you never hear from them again and have lost your initial payment. This is one that a lot of students can be targeted by as scammers know most are desperate for easy ways to earn cash. More information on how to avoid Forex scams can be found here, and the best advice for social media users is not to trust any strangers offering attractive yet unproven deals.

2. Catfishing

This is one social media scam that sees con artists create fake profiles to romantically snare other users they target. The basic idea is that they would target you pretending to be the person in the fake profile and begin a relationship online. As this progresses, they would start to ask for money or gifts from you which is how you are scammed. Of course, the relationship never goes anywhere, and they will suddenly disappear one day. All you are left with is less money in your bank and a feeling of being duped.

3. Profile hijacking

This common scam on social media involves criminals using real data from your own profile against you. They would set up a fake profile that they were controlling but with genuine photos and information. This then allows them to pretend to be you and fool everyone. But what is the scam behind this? It is usually done to contact your social media network and ask for financial help. Of course, if anyone agrees and sends money over, it goes into the scammer’s account and is never seen again. While this may not affect you financially, it is a nasty scam that can ruin your online reputation.

4. URL scams

Social media is great for finding out about new websites from posts that other people upload, however, the next time you are on a break from study, be careful which URL links you click on. Most posts will have legitimately shortened versions of a website’s URL for convenience. A common scam right now though is for con artists to use shortened URLs they post to mask a malicious page underneath. The page you cannot see when you click on the link may in fact be placing malware on your machine.

Be careful when using social media sites

While the above may sound scary, it should not put you off from catching up with college or university friends on social media. By far the best way to approach this issue is to be vigilant at all times. If someone approaches you who does not seem genuine or is asking for money, simply ignore them. It is also essential to be careful about what links you click and what sites they take you too. If you make sure to be on your guard then you will be able to avoid the most common social media scams.

Photograph by Geralt

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