Spot social media scams: National Consumer Fraud Week 2017

19 May 2017

Spot social media scams
During this year’s National Consumer Fraud Week (15 - 19 May), Scamwatch is providing advice to Australians to help them ‘spot social media scams’.

Increasing numbers of Australians are encountering—and losing money to—scams on social media. If you use social media, we encourage you to be particularly alert for dating and romance scams and fake trader scams. These scammers abuse the trust of social media users by pretending to be real people looking for love or legitimate retailers, creating emotional distress for their victims and financial losses that are usually impossible to recover.

Tips to protect yourself

Dating and romance scams

  • Check the profile of new friend requests, especially if you have only met the person online. Look out for:
    • new profiles with limited content
    • hidden friend lists or friend lists full of people of the opposite gender
    • profiles that read like a dating profile
    • grammar and spelling errors.
  • Do an image search of your admirer to help determine if they really are who they say they are. You can use image search services such as Google or TinEye.
  • Don’t share personal information or send money to someone you’ve never met in person.
  • Be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos, especially if you’ve never met them before in person. Scammers are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material.

Fake trader scams

  • Check reviews before buying online. Try to find how reputable a seller is by searching for reviews.
  • When using retail websites, find out exactly who you are dealing with. If it’s an Australian company, you’re in a much better position to sort out the problem if something goes wrong.
  • When making online payments, only pay for items using a secure payment service. Don’t use unsecured transactions like wire transfers.
  • If the product doesn’t arrive, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.

Using social media

  • Be careful who you connect with and don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know.
  • Report profiles you suspect to be scams to the social media platform – they might  be attempting to scam others too.
  • Review your privacy and security settings on social media to ensure you stay safe. Take the time to understand exactly what your account shows about you to the public.
  • If you have been scammed online, take steps to secure your account and be sure to report the conduct to the platform.

Resources

  • Targeting scams: report of the ACCC on scams activity 2016. This report explains key trends in scam activity and highlights the impact of scams on the community. It highlights the cooperative work of the ACCC, other regulators and law enforcement agencies to disrupt scams and educate consumers.
  • Scam statistics. Get the latest scams data from this new resource that illustrates the prevalence and impact of scams. The statistics can be filtered by scam type, month and year, allowing you to track trends in scam activity.
  • The little black book of scams. This ACCC publication can help you learn more about scams including the most common scams to watch out for, the different ways scammers can contact you, the tools scammers use to trick you and the warning signs to look out for..
  • Dating and romance scams.  Learn more about how these scams work,  and what to look out for so you can protect yourself from dating and romance scams.

  • Online shopping scams. Find out how to identify scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site.

  •  Latest scams information. Sign up to receive Scamwatch radar alerts direct to your inbox or follow Scamwatch on Twitter.

Infographic

This infographic provides a snapshot of key trends in scam activity from the 2016 Targeting scams report.

Media releases

Australians lost nearly $300 million to scams in 2016

Scams targeting indigenous peoples nearly doubled in 2016

Businesses lost an average of $10,000 to scams in 2016

Partners

Scamwatch and the Australian Consumer Fraud Taskforce would like to acknowledge the assistance of our government, business, and community group partners for the 2017 Fraud Week campaign.

  • AirBnB
  • ANZ
  • Australian Bankers' Association
  • Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
  • Australia Post
  • Bendigo and Adelaide Bank
  • Brotherhood of St Laurence
  • CHOICE
  • Communications Alliance Ltd
  • Consumer Action Law Centre
  • COTA Australia
  • COTA NT
  • COTA WA
  • eHarmony
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Gumtree
  • Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network
  • Microsoft Australia
  • MoneyGram
  • National Australia Bank
  • Optus
  • Qantas
  • RSVP/Oasis
  • South Australian Small Business Commissioner
  • Suncorp
  • Symantec
  • Twitter
  • Western Union
  • Westpac

National Consumer Fraud Week is an initiative of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce.

More information

Protect yourself from scams

Where to get help

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