Love is in the air in February, and couples will be professing their affection to celebrate Valentine’s Day. One of the most common ways that they do so is by declaring their feelings for one another in social media posts. This modern-day PDA might seem like a good idea but can also expose you to potential risks.
It’s always important for both singles and those in relationships to be cautious of their social media activity, but particularly during holidays. Fraudsters make a concerted effort to target potential victims during celebrations like Valentine’s Day. This is because we’re all more likely to share much more personal information. By gathering details on social media, scammers can piece together enough of your personal information to commit identity theft.
Here are some of the social media mistakes that invite Valentine’s Day scams:
Accepting friend requests or follows from strangers
Scam artists are ready to take advantage of lonely hearts who are especially vulnerable on Valentine’s Day. They will manufacture an identity on social media and reach out to you in catfishing schemes. After building trust and forming a phony friendship over time, they will eventually ask for money.
While this scheme might seem easy to spot, it’s been shockingly successful for scammers – and it continues to grow with the proliferation of social media. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, romance scams caused losses of more than $230 million in 2016.
Letting people know you are away from home
Whether you’re going out for a romantic dinner or spending a long weekend at a quaint bed and breakfast, never post publicly that your home is unattended. If criminals know there won’t be any obstacle to robbing you, what’s to stop them from breaking into your home or apartment?
Recently, while playing in the Super Bowl, Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski had his home burglarized. As a public figure there’s obviously nothing Gronkowski did to put himself at risk, but this example goes to show how thieves think.
Clicking on untrustworthy links
During any holiday, scammers run fake ads, news or sweepstakes to capitalize on increased social media traffic. These dubious links can often open you to phishing attacks or malware. Be sure to hover over and preview link destinations before clicking and verify the validity of any site before entering personal information.
Posting that you are alone
Valentine’s Day can be rough for singles – especially having to see all their friends and peers making lovey-dovey social media posts. Some lonely hearts decide to deflect their feelings with humorous posts about being alone on Valentine’s Day. Try to avoid sharing your status via social, which can make you more of a target for catfishing or other scams.
Posting a picture that contains sensitive information
Another common activity is to post status updates with pictures of the gifts you receive from your significant other. Say, for example, you got a package and a shipment of flowers in the mail. Wanting to share your excitement you snap a picture and upload it to social media. However, the picture displays a label with your home address and phone number.
It’s pieces of information like this that fraudsters compile to commit their crimes. Be cautious that, when you take a photo, no sensitive personal information is showing.
Between flowers, chocolates, plush toys, romantic dinners and dates, there are many ways to go about celebrating Valentine’s Day besides social posts. Social media has become a hunting ground for identity thieves who damage lives and reputations. Make sure that you have a safe holiday by avoiding these mistakes!
Did You Know?
Nearly 2 out of 3 adults in the U.S. have been victims of social media hacking. The threat to everyone from cybercriminals is unavoidable, but there are tools to help protect us. Click here to learn about Social Media Identity Monitoring.