If you’re like most traders, you’re using social media on your trading computer and mobile devices without giving it a second thought. But today’s social media is fraught with scammers trying to get access to your devices.
I’m not suggesting you go cold turkey and stop using social media altogether. But you should be aware of the dangers, so you can avoid being a victim.
Here are some common social media scams that can pose a threat to your trading business.
Chain Messages or Posts
Before emails, there were chain letters. Scammers would mail letters through snail mail and ask the recipients to forward the letter to others.
Many of these chain letters asked for some form of financial help. In the digital age, scammers have upgraded to emails and messenger apps.
You might see a post in your social media feed asking to help a sick person financially. You might trust the post because it’s from a friend. Unfortunately, your friend might have trusted the post because it was from their friend.
More problematic are posts that talk about big trading secrets and deals. As a trader, you should always be wary of any financial recommendations you receive on social media.
- Before sending money, investigate any claims yourself with a Google search.
- Alternatively, call up the friend and ask where he/she received the information.
Just like email, social media is full of phishing scams where scammers try to get you to click on malicious links. Again, the trusted-friend factor increases the probability you’ll fall for the scam.
You probably reply to your social media messages faster than emails. And you may scrutinize those messages less.
All it takes is one click on a malicious link from a friend’s post (“check out my latest photos”) and your trading computer can be infected with a virus or malware. Equally bad, the link might take you to a bogus login page, so now the criminal has your username and password.
- Next time you see a post from a friend, don’t click on it instantly. Make sure you scrutinize the post before engaging with it.
- Check that your Internet security software includes antiphishing functionality.
The use of short URLs is popular on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. But the danger with these URLs is you don’t know the true destination.
You assume the URL will launch a reliable website, when instead it might download malware.
Scammers also use short URLs to take you to sites that look real. You might think you’re on a reputable trading site like E*trade, but it might be a site that was designed to collect customer information.
Short URLs are useful, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Be prepared and use wisely.
- Keep your antivirus and anti-malware software up-to-date.
- Once at the destination site, examine the final URL in the search bar to be sure it’s legitimate.
Marketers rely on social media to find customers likely to be interested in their products and services. It’s a great sales tool to hone in on target audiences.
But this also means social media is a great tool for scammers to target you. They can specifically target traders in cryptocurrency and other markets.
Sometimes the posts or ads might seem like free deals. But if your social media account is attached to your credit cards or banks for automatic payments, you might get a surprise in your next statement.
- Whenever you sign up for a free service on social media, make sure it’s really free.
- Especially if you’ve never heard of the advertiser before, take a minute and do a little Googling.
If you spend any time on Facebook at all, you’ve probably seen what happens when a friend’s Facebook profile has been hijacked.
First, you get a friend request from someone you’ve friended previously. Maybe you notice their profile picture looks suspicious. If you’re smart, you go to their profile page and discover there isn’t anything in the timeline.
Then, if you’re lucky, you see an apology message from the friend warning you their profile was hijacked.
So how do you keep from being a victim of a Facebook impersonation scam?
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Or, if they show a bunch of mutual friends, check with one of those other friends and make sure they can vouch for this other person.
- Watch out for duplicate friend requests. (And if you spot one, be a true friend and notify your friend who was hijacked.)
- Don’t share your password with someone else.
- Use two-factor authentication when logging in.
- When out of the office, avoid connecting to public or free Wi-Fi.
- Keep your browser and apps updated, so you’ll be armed with the latest security updates.
Social media has brought a lot of good into our lives. But some bad has come with it. Be aware, be awake, and stay safe.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250.
Image by mikegi on Pixabay.