The best way to protect yourself from all types of fraud is to keep abreast of the various fraud schemes. As a follow-up from our last post where we touched on fraud detection and prevention, a scheme that has proven to be common overtime is a branch of identity theft which is social media identity theft.
What is Social Media Theft?
Social media theft occurs when a person pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others especially for fraudulent gain. These fraudsters hijack your social media accounts or create accounts impersonating you. This commonly takes place on different platforms like Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter e.t.c. These fraudsters gain control of your social media account, they identify people you frequently contact then reach out to them claiming to be you. They inform your contacts of untrue situations about you and create an urgent need for financial assistance.
This way they’re able to convince your contacts and swindle as much money as they can from them. This type of fraud is particularly dangerous as all of this could be going on without your knowledge, possibly putting you in debt and hurting your reputation.
Safety guidelines for safe social media use
- Enable 2 Factor authentication across all accounts: This is an added layer of security that requires a special code along with your password. While most companies send you these codes through SMS, this method can easily be compromised if someone steals your phone. Instead, use an authenticator app. The 2FA feature is usually found under the settings tab of your preferred social media application.
- Be careful about the information you share on social media. Personal information should be confidential to you. E.g: Bvn, account numbers, date of birth etc
- Do not click on random links from people as these links can be used to hijack your account or to gain access to your personal information.
- Online shopping scams often take the form of fake retail sites or fake ads embedded in real retail site vendors. Always verify before you patronize them. Online shopping scams are becoming increasingly common on social media.
- Report any suspicious activity to the social media platform and/or the authorities.
Taking into account that fraud is dynamic, bad actors will always try to find an alternative way to defraud people. Should you fall victim to fraudsters, please speak up and don’t blame yourself. Many get defrauded everyday and people of any age who believe they are too smart or well-informed to be tricked could still become victims, especially today where technology is used in many scams. Fraudsters count on your silence to keep their scams active. The longer the general public isn’t aware of their methods, the longer the scam lasts.
Recovery Steps for a fraud victim
Statistics tell us that if someone was a victim of fraud once, they’re more likely to become a repeat victim. As soon as you recognize the warning signs of fraud, take action as soon as possible.
Here’s what you should do:
Make an attempt to track how the fraud happened as it can come in different forms and knowing which will help guide your actions. Scammers hope it takes longer for you to recognize the fraud. When you know how, make an immediate attempt to block that method. You can change your password, block your account or quickly report to your account officer as a first aid treatment. This may also stop the fraudster from depleting all your resources.
Now that you know the details of the fraud, you need to shut the fraudsters out completely. You should escalate the issue to your bank as they will walk you through the next steps such as placing a lien on account, recovering stolen funds, canceling credit or debit card etc. Financial organizations play a paramount role in gathering as much information and proof as possible that you may need later when you want to file an official report, dispute charges and debts that aren’t yours. The longer you go without reporting the crime, the more they can steal.
Information flow is what the Internet is about. Information sharing is power. If you don’t share your experience, people won’t know nor can they do anything about them. Knowledge is power. The more we stay informed, the less we are victims and the more we share fraud details, the less people are victims.
If a fraudster got access to your banking information or credit card numbers, there’s a good chance they have access to other accounts. Do not hesitate to change all your passwords and secure your accounts. It’s advisable to use strong passwords that are at least 8 characters long and combine letters, numbers, symbols, and cases. Also setting up a password manager to keep track of all your passwords and alert you of compromised accounts.
Fraud is an emotional crime as much as a financial one. As a victim, you might feel angry and embarrassed that you were tricked. Or, you might not want to report fraud because you think your losses aren’t “worth” reporting. Don’t let these feelings get in the way of reporting the crime. Not only will you help yourself recover, you’ll also help prevent future fraud.
Written by Temitope Bamidele with contribution from the members of the Flutterwave Fraud Team.