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Since the dawn of the internet, there have been scammers looking to take advantage of personal information online. With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other new social sharing sites, it is important to be aware of how much information we share, and with whom.
With so much personal information out there, scammers can easily get hold of your money or steal your identity. Canadians lose millions of dollars every year from these kinds of vicious attacks, so be on the lookout at all times.
Here are five ways to avoid becoming victim to social media scams:
1. Regulate your privacy settings. Managing your settings wisely can help avoid any unwanted attention to your social media pages. Adjust your settings to select who can access your personal information, photos and posts.
2. Don’t overshare. While social media encourages the sharing of personal information, avoid revealing too many personal details. Scammers can use these to track down information that allows them to steal your identity. Remember, just because you post something in a private group, it doesn’t mean that someone won’t take a screen shot and share it.
3. Be careful where you click. There are many attention-grabbing links, photos and articles that that pop-up, but don’t click on just anything. While these sites may look legitimate, they can contain programs that attempt to take your contact information and share it.
4. Your password is your friend. Create strong passwords and ensure that they are unique and challenging so scammers will not be able to guess them. Make it a habit to change your passwords regularly and use different ones for different sites.
5. Be alert and cautious. Be vigilant about who you communicate with online and how you verify their identity. Be extra cautious when they ask you to do something. Never click on suspicious links, and never share personal or financial information unless you can absolutely trust the person on the other end, and verify that they are who they say they are.
More information is available at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/fraud, or you can phone the Competition Bureau directly at 1-800-348-5358. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre also has a helpful website: www.antifraudcentre.ca, and can be reached at 1-888-495-8501. – NC