In 2019, studies show that people had collectively reported more than $137 million in losses due to social media scams. In the first six months of 2020, that figure had jumped to $117 million. In total, individuals and businesses have lost more than $100 billion due to scams on social media.
Because of social media’s dominant role in today’s business landscape, more fraudsters are starting to use it for their gains. This has been especially the case during the global pandemic, as they know more businesses are relying on social channels to stay connected with their customers.
But despite its breadth and power, social media should still be used at your own risk. Being a scam victim isn’t just bad for your bottom line; it can also hurt your reputation.
Awareness is key in reducing your risk. Take a look at these common social media scams by platform and protect your business image:
The FTC reports that 94% of social media scams originate on Facebook or Instagram. In the past year, Facebook scams involving fake ads have been targeting small businesses in droves. Well-oiled operations are swiping real product photos from businesses and using them in fake ad campaigns. Because of the professional images, customers think they’re ordering quality products from you, which is why they’re surprised to find cheap-quality, knock-off items in their mailboxes.
The sad results: customers leave businesses bad reviews, tarnishing their image and taking precious time trying to respond to angry customers.
A recent Time report noted that these types of scams increase by 40% during the holiday shopping season.
In 2019, LinkedIn revealed they took action against 21.6 million fake accounts, 95% of which were blocked upon signup. This alone underscores the importance for businesses to be vigilant about who they connect with on the platform.
With LinkedIn being the professional’s network, it’s not surprising that job scams run rampant here. The biggest threat to businesses via LinkedIn is to your reputation. Scammers that hack your account may be able to hijack your business page and use it to scam other users with fake job offers and content that doesn’t represent your brand (e.g., spammy posts, etc.).
Your employees who use LinkedIn are at risk, too. If a scammer sends them a phishing message with a suspicious link, they could risk having their account hacked or hijacked. And since your employees represent your company on LinkedIn, anything the scammer posts on their behalf could reflect poorly on you.
According to a recent report, one out of every 100 tweets is malicious. What’s more, it’s estimated that less than half of all Twitter accounts belong to real users sending out real messages to their audience. The rest are inactive or fake accounts run by bots to send spammy messages.
One of the most common threats to businesses is getting sucked into a spam message that first threatens your reputation, then your bottom line. You might receive a message such as “I saw something bad about your business. Is this you?” Naturally, you click on the link so you can take control of the narrative. But to access the content, you’re prompted to enter your Twitter user ID and password, which allows the scammer to take over your account.
Once they have access, they can tweet on your behalf. They may even send spam to your audience or trick them out of money, all of which can damage your reputation.
What Businesses Can Do to Protect Themselves
Recognizing the scams your business faces is half the battle. It’s essential that you not only know what a social media scam looks like but also train your team to spot them, too. Establish protocols for handling suspicious messages in the inbox or on social media.
Most importantly, report all suspected fraud instances to prove that crime doesn’t pay. Keeping your business safe is no longer about alarm systems, deadbolts, and security cameras. When you make cybersecurity a top priority, you can stop digital threats in their tracks.