Consumer Affairs Victoria is encouraging Victorians to find out how to avoid social media scams during National Consumer Fraud Week, running from 15-19 May.
This year’s Fraud Week theme is Scams through social media, and reflects the growing number of scam reports in this area.
In 2016, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch resource received more reports than ever of scammers approaching people through social networking sites.
Australians reported losing more than $9.5 million to scams perpetrated on social media last year – almost three times more than in 2015.
Victorians alone lost around $1.8 million to social media scams, from a total $18.8 million in reported scam losses.
Social media profiles often display a lot of personal information, which gives scammers the flexibility to shape their methods and communications to match your interests.
This is why social media is becoming a common first point of contact for dating and romance scammers. According to Scamwatch reports, dating and romance scams that occurred through social media cost Australians more than $7.5 million in 2016; more than any year previously.
Scammers also draw on the advertising potential in social media to target shoppers. Last year, fake trader scams were the second most common scam occurring through social media, according to Scamwatch reports. Scammers set up temporary business profiles advertising very cheap products and linking through to their fake shopping websites.
It can be hard to tell the difference between genuine and fake profiles or ads on social media. Follow these tips to help avoid a social media scam:
- Do not accept invitations on social media from people you do not know.
- Do not send money to someone you have never met in person.
- Check reviews before buying online. Find out how reputable a seller is by searching for reviews.
- People may be able to see more about you than you realise on social media. Learn how to use your privacy and security settings to ensure you stay safe.
For more information on social media scams and Fraud Week 2017, visit the Scamwatch website.
We also provide up-to-date information and scam warnings through our social media channels. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Fraud Week is an annual initiative of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (ACFT), a group of government agencies and departments in Australia and New Zealand that work alongside private sector, community and non-government partners to help prevent fraud.
Consumer Affairs Victoria is a proud member of the ACFT.