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Last updated on: December 21, 2023
According to FTC, in 2021 over $770 million were reportedly lost to social media scams. This represented more than 25 percent of the total fraud losses in the past year. More than 95,000 people lost money to social media scams and the overall losses were reportedly an 18x increase since 2017.
In other words, more than one in four people lost money due to social media scams in 2021, whether it was through a post, a message, or a paid ad. That means social media is now way more profitable for scammers than any other platform.
The pivot to social media by scammers isn’t just a cause of concern for unsuspecting social media users, but also for brands that might be getting impersonated by scammers
In this article, we discuss:
Social media scams are the ones that originate on social media platforms. Scammers use social media as a low-cost way to reach out to billions of people. Since social media platforms are free to use, scammers can create fake profiles or steal already verified pages to conduct social media fraud with little to no cost overhead. Some scammers may even publish paid campaigns to reach out to a wider audience and trick users.
It is very easy to manufacture a fake persona or copy someone else’s social media page to look genuine. All you have to do is, steal content from another page. Scammers can also further fine-tune their approach by studying the personal details that people share on their social media profiles.
Most importantly, with social media platforms, scammers can use advertising tools to specifically target people with a certain age, interests, behaviors, and past purchases.
Over 19 percent of social media accounts associated with the top ten brands in the world are fake.
The fact is, brand abuse and intellectual property infringement stretch far beyond counterfeiting now. While scammers are still readily finding new ways to trick customers into buying counterfeit goods, it isn’t the only way for them to make money off of a brand’s success.
Scammers now use social media platforms to impersonate brands. By the time customers realize that they have been taken advantage of, the scammers have already fled and the only thing the customers remember is the brand’s name.
Most importantly, social media scams can end up causing irreparable damage to the trust that customers have in a brand. Customers may ask why a brand didn’t do anything to stop scammers from using its name and they may even never make another purchase with the brand again.
Social media phishing happens when a scammer creates fake social media accounts to impersonate a brand. Scammers can copy the original brand page in its entirety including the profile photo, cover images, and posts to look genuine.
Then, scammers can use this fake page to lure customers and take advantage of them in different ways, like:
Profile hacking refers to gaining access to an account’s login details and taking over the account. Scammers can share malicious links, which when clicked, can end up jeopardizing your account’s security.
After scammers gain access to a brand’s social media accounts, they can use it to scam followers. Since profile hacking is done through a verified account, it can be even more difficult for users to ascertain that they are being tricked.
Scammers can also pretend to be representatives of a brand and reach out to unsuspecting customers claiming that they have won a prize, even when they haven’t entered any contest or giveaway.
But to receive the prize, people are asked to pay a ‘small shipping fee or processing fee.’ As soon as scammers receive this money, they disappear leaving the fraud victims confused.
By shortening URLs on social media, scammers can hide the full location of a web page and direct customers to phishing or scam websites. In some cases, scammers may even share hidden URLs in order to direct customers to a suspicious website that can install malware on their device and steal personal information.
With more and more businesses setting up shops on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, social media platforms have also become a haven for scammers to sell counterfeit products.
Scammers can either impersonate brands directly or claim to be third-party sellers to sell counterfeits.
Original product images and taglines can be copied onto scam social media pages to confuse customers into believing they are buying the real thing.
Verify your social media pages: Get your social media pages verified so that prospective customers can differentiate between official and fake pages easily. You should also share links to your social media accounts everywhere, including your website and email campaigns. When you get verified, it also becomes easier to get your account back in case it is ever hacked.
Conduct social media audits: A social media audit is a process of assessing all of your social media pages associated with the brand to better identify any potential risks and vulnerabilities. You should also use this to look for any rogue social media accounts that might be using your intellectual property like your visual content or brand name without any authorization.
Intellectual property registration: Register the copyright and trademark for your brand to ensure that even if someone initiates social media scams under your brand’s name, they can’t get away with it. Social media platforms take intellectual property infringements very seriously and they readily shut down fake accounts as long as you can prove that you are the original IP owner.
Use an automated social media protection tool: It can be incredibly time-consuming to constantly stay on the lookout for scammers trying to use your brand’s name with bad intentions. Your social media team is probably already busy managing customer communication and looking for scammers may not be on the top of their priority list.
Red Points’ Social Media Protection Solution can effectively detect and monitor fake profiles impersonating your brand. It can also detect fake social media ads and counterfeits on different platforms. More importantly, Red Points can automatically request takedown of scam pages and shut them down before they can cause any permanent damage to your brand.
In today’s increasingly connected world, it’s not just important for businesses to be active on social media but to also protect their brand identity on different platforms. While there is no way to completely avoid scammers on social media, you can take proactive steps to shut down any scams running in your brand’s name before they can cause any long-term damage to your brand reputation and revenue.