Over the last few years, social media scams have exploded, with fake Twitter and Facebook profiles increasing by 100% in just one year. There are several types of social media scams, most which involve a phishing scheme component.

Here’s how it happens: Scammers try to “friend” you by creating a bogus profile or cloning the profile of someone you know. Then, they’ll get you to share personal information by asking you random questions. Meanwhile, you’re unknowingly giving away the security questions for your personal passwords. By the time you realize what’s happened, it’s too late. Other social media scams involve fake offers and promotions. To get your hands on the goods, though, you’ll first need to share your personal information.

In yet another scam, fraudsters reach out to you while impersonating your financial institution. They’ll claim to have incredible rates on loans. And, if you apply for this “loan,” the scammers might empty your accounts or trick you into making upfront payments to qualify.

Keep yourself safe from social media scams with these helpful tips:

How to spot a scam

  • The posted offer sounds too good to be true.
  • You’re asked to make an upfront payment for a loan application.
  • You’re urged to act immediately or risk missing the offer.
  • The scammer claims to represent your credit union,but when you call to discuss the offer, no one knows what you’re talking about.
  • You’re asked to share sensitive information in the initial stages of the application.
  • A social media “friend” keeps asking you random questions.

Preventing social media scams

Preventing social media scams isn’t difficult. All it takes is some common sense and practical steps.

  • Think before you click. Ignore anything suspicious or intrusive.
  • If a lender has contacted you, check their legitimacy with the Better Business Bureau.
  • If you need to take out a personal loan, contact Insight Credit Union
  • Never share personal information online with someone you don’t know.
  • Look for a publicly listed phone number that corresponds with the name of any “company” that has contacted you.
  • Never agree to pay for a product upfront without being certain of its legitimacy.
  • Check your social media privacy settings on a regular basis.
  • Never post anything that can be used to steal your identity.

If you are a victim

If you’ve been victimized, here’s how to minimize the damage:

  • Shut your computer and use another device to change your passwords.
  • Put a fraud alert on your credit.
  • Let your financial institution They’ll watch your accounts and refuse to honor sketchy charges.
  • Alert the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Tell your friends to be aware of any random requests that may come from you.

Do you have any helpful tips to add to this list?