A new study has found that nearly half (47%) of social media users have been victims of some form of social media shopping scam, and have fared no better than other common scams.
An Atlas VPN report (opens in a new tab), analyzing digital marketing firm GoodFirms (opens in a new tab) survey of 560 social media users, shows that phishing links (36, 7 % admitted to being in love with them), gift card scams (also 36,7%), “help” scams (33,3%), and bogus job offers (30%) are among the most common scams. effective, with many more on the list.
As Atlas explains, the techniques between scams can change (for example, a phishing link is a largely automated process, while a romance scam involves direct contact with a threat actor), but the motives remain the same. : steal money, which can also mean data.
Prevent online scams
As the world rushes online for the best Black Friday deals (like ours on standing desks), the plague of scams likely won't abate any time soon. The only answer, it seems, is to educate rabid shoppers to be smart.
Along with his report, Atlas VPN gave his best tips for staying safe online. Among them, wondering if a deal is too good to be true. This will always be trusted advice for those who are worried about being scammed online. Technology is changing, but critical thinking is a vital constant.
As part of this, he recommends carefully reviewing a website's link or profile for veracity, noting that a company's social media or website should look professional and have perfect spelling and grammar.
That's true, but it's worth adding that it's always wise to inspect an actual web address, if you're in doubt about where it leads, before clicking on it. Atlas VPN suggests buying from well-known brands, but you may have received a link to a site claiming to be from that brand, with a very subtle typo in the web address.
This is also the case with mobile shopping apps. Rogue apps may pay for a higher listing placement for a certain keyword than the legitimate app you are likely searching for. Take a moment to compare what you're seeing with what you're looking for, and don't be afraid to scroll.
Atlas VPN naturally recommends using a VPN service if you're using public WiFi to shop, though we recommend waiting until you get home if possible.
It also highlights the importance of randomly generating passwords for every account you maintain online and storing them in a password manager.
It can be tedious, but if you do manage to get scammed, you'll be mitigating the risk to your data much more than creating your password, er, “password”.