Becoming scam-free savvy
Most social media users would like to believe that they are reasonably tech-savvy when it comes to any suspicious content that they may encounter on their phones, via email, or simply on the net. In fact, we've become pretty complacent, in recent years, to happily download apps that require us to share private and often confidential information. It's noteworthy to accept, however, that hackers and scammers are continuously improving their target tactics and methods to carry out their tricks. And any kind of vulnerable situation may catch you completely unawares.
12 Dec 2022 11:35
Statista (2022) reports that social media users worldwide grew from 2.73 billion in 2017 to a whopping 4.59 billion in 2022. That’s a growth of just over 40% in only five years. And, as more people gain access to smartphones and internet connectivity, scammers and hackers have a healthy bounty of potential victims to prey on.
Whether you’re an avid social media user or not, it’s worthwhile familiarising yourself with these key tips to ensure that you are social media safe, and your vital information remains protected, not to mention your reputation as well:
- Pay attention to language and grammar in the messages you receive. Spelling and grammar errors are usually the first among numerous red flags that you can detect when it comes to a scammer’s ploy, either via email, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. When it comes to suspicious invites, be on the lookout for incoherent writing expressions used in the bio and profile of the sender. For instance, a biographical phrase that reads 'just looking for friend and conect', should raise an eyebrow.
- Lack of sufficient generic history of photographs, biographical information, and content on the sender’s profile. If you receive a message or invitation from someone on Instagram who follows over 2,000 users but has only two or three photographs (often with some kind of facial concealment), it’s undoubtedly another red flag.
- Be mindful of writing stylistic changes. Similar to tip one, we become easily accustomed to a friend or family member’s particular social media writing style, if we’re paying attention to it. If someone has hacked into their account, you may need to be mindful of noticing any changes in their expressions and use of emojis (or lack thereof). For instance, if you’re not used to a friend saying, “Help me out real quick”, then that’s another cue to look out for.
- Unreasonable requests or offers. So many of us seem to have a distant deceased relative these days who happens to have left their entire wealthy estate and fortunes to a complete stranger who they claim is a family member. Apart from that dead giveaway, be cautious as well of any messages that ask you to click on a link to help a family member or friend back into their Instagram or Facebook account. Think twice (or thrice even) before you divulge any personal or financial information without proper authentication of the message and its sender.
- To ensure your social media accounts are safe, make sure that you log in regularly to your social media profiles to avoid any account becoming dormant. Just as we have break-ins and burglaries in the physical world, so thieves also act in the realms of the digital world. Regularly change your passwords and ensure that you activate your 2FA (2-factor authentication) where possible, on your various social media platforms and apps.
Although WhatsApp, Instagram, or LinkedIn may not take any immediate action against a scammer, be sure to block and report any suspicious behaviour and always ensure that your personal information is published at an absolute bare minimum (these include contact numbers, home or work address, place of work, work contact number, your position at work and any photographs that may place you in a compromising position or situation). You should also be careful of posting photographs of any young children on social media, especially if you have not obtained parental permission to do so.
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. With the right kind of management settings in place and regular checks on your social media apps, these activities are paramount to ensure that your social media experiences are positive, non-threatening, and enjoyable. This goes for anyone who uses social media for work purposes, entertainment, educational content, or some other private use.
For a safe and affordable educational experience, with no hidden costs, contact MSC Education Online today. Call or WhatsApp: 087 551 1744 or visit www.msccollege.co.za.