Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube allow you to keep in touch with friends and family, and stay connected with the social and cultural dialogues going on at any given moment. However, the sheer volume of people on these sites and the amount of information being exchanged every instant makes it a breeding ground for scams and con artists. Avoid social networking scams by being selective about who you invite into your network, and protective about the information you share about yourself, your family and your life.
1. Regulate your privacy settings: Most social networks, such as Facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc allow you to control who sees your information, photos and posts.
- Think about who will be seeing the information you post. If your privacy settings are not controlled, you will be giving information about yourself out to anyone with access to the Internet.
2. Allow only people you know into your social network: Do not accept friendship or network requests from people you do not recognize.
- Keep your network manageable. You probably do not need thousands of friends on Facebook and tens of thousands of followers on Twitter.
3. Watch what you post: Pictures of expensive cars, your enormous home and your pricey vacation getaways will only make you more attractive to scam artists.
- Do not post personal information that can be used by others. Never mention your mother’s maiden name or date of birth.
4. Avoid social networking content that asks you for personal information: Do not download any apps, take any quizzes or sign up for any coupons that ask for your date of birth, social security number or home address.
5. Delete links you cannot identify: Do not click on any link that is unfamiliar or comes from an unknown source. These could carry viruses or lead scammers to your personal information.
6. Refuse to engage in financial transactions on social networks: If you follow a favorite charity’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, make your donations through their website, by phone or by mail.
7. Try not to access social networking sites on public computers: Use your own computer instead of the computers at libraries and other public places. Your login information can be stolen and used to post false things.
8. Be cautious. Do not trust requests for help that come to you over social networks. If the plea for money or assistance comes from a friend, call or text that person to find out if they are really in need of help.
9. Change your password regularly.This will help protect you from getting hacked.
10. Make sure your security software and firewalls are up to date. Use a good virus protection plan for your computer as well.