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In 2021, more than 95,000 people told the FTC that they’d been scammed with a con that started on social media. In fact, more than one in four people who reported to the FTC that they lost money to any scam said the transaction started with a post, an ad, or a message on a social media platform. And the losses amount to about $770 million.
 
Today’s Data Spotlight gives us insights into how scammers use social media to con people. Reports point to rampant investment, romance, and online shopping scams on social. People reported losing the most money to investment scams (particularly those involving bogus cryptocurrency investments) and romance scams. More than a third of the people who lost money to romance scams said it started on Facebook or Instagram.
 
The largest number of reports came from people who lost money trying to buy something they saw marketed on social media. Most said they didn’t get the stuff they paid for, while some reported ads that impersonated a real online retailer. Reports of social media fraud increased for all age groups in 2021, but people 18 to 39 were more than twice as likely to report losing money than older adults.
 
Scammers trying to get your money are always looking for new ways to reach people. And they’ll use whatever they know about you to target their pitch. Here are some things to do to protect yourself, no matter which social media platform you use:
  • Try to limit who can see your posts and information on social media. Of course, all platforms collect information about you from your activities on social media, but visit your privacy settings to set some restrictions.
  • Check if you can opt out of targeted advertising. Some platforms let you do that.
  • If you see urgent messages from a “friend” asking for money, stop. It could be a hacker behind that post pretending to be your friend.
  • Check out a company before you buy. Read Shopping Online for advice.
  • Don’t deal with a vendor that requires payment by cryptocurrency, gift card, or wire transfer. That’s sure to be a scam.
If you see or experience scam on social media, report it to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
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27 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

cliffatty
January 27, 2022
There are now emails from scammers "notifying" us that a membership is about to expire and that they have extended it and will bill your card $399, $459, and higher. Just delete the message, pay no attention, but don't respond. I assume that the scam is to get your to confirm the charge on the bottom of their email, or if you call, try and get your charge card account number.
Nicholas
January 27, 2022
I feel Congress and FTC should finally crack down on the abuses that Facebook and others allow for their private profits. These scams that are allowed to proliferate cost all Americans.
Jojo
January 27, 2022
Yes a military scam took. me for $100,000 I’m so broke and depleted and depressed
RealRenae
January 29, 2022

In reply to by Jojo

Me too, this guy was a so called ship captain and his wife died. he calls everyday and tells me he loves me and how I am going to be his wife
Apoc321
February 02, 2022

In reply to by RealRenae

My friend is in her 70s and same thing happend said he works for th3 goverment over seas on a ship he got her for over 75,000 he said his name was Ollie Smith
Don't use your…
January 27, 2022
I played on SongPop, chatted to a man who claimed lived in LA. Was a shipping agent currently in China, was charming at first but then began asking for money, I have a lot of information if I could report him to somewhere that can help.
tifftheriff
January 29, 2022

In reply to by Don't use your…

just report it. i think i saw instructions on how to report above.
Consumed2
January 27, 2022
I have receiving at least 20 texts a day that are all scams. Anything from your At/T bill has been paid. Click here to view. To how to lose weight. You won “something “ claim here. Etc. I reported to my phone provider. Advised to go and block contact. Then text it to them. Which I have done. The more I report them the more I receive!! Any other solution?
IG User
January 27, 2022

In reply to by Consumed2

You can get a complete phone blocker app, a paid one. Only thing that works for me and it works beautifully. Set to block anyone not in my personal contacts or block everyone across the board, it's adjustable and I wouldn't be without it.
WynLin
January 29, 2022

In reply to by agingwellswoman

Ha ha. How is that working for you? I did this last year, for mobile phones. I still get calls for insurance, loans, etc. All of which say “Press 9 to be removed from this phone call list” what a joke.
Twinkle
January 27, 2022

In reply to by Consumed2

If you get a phone call never use the word yes, that can be inserted easily into something that you did not want. What I always do on phone calls from unknown sources is not answer. If someone really needs you they can leave a voicemail. Unless you know this person be very cautious if calling them back. On social media if someone begins telling you how beautiful/handsome you are that is a red flag and then if inquiring about your health or daily hygiene practices, like they care and are concerned, don't fall for that. Block them and keep in mind the only thing they care about is whatever they could get from you. Don't let them convince you to leave the platform you are using to be able to talk privately on another platform, Whats App is one they like to get you on, since they are likely to be in Nigeria or some other faraway place. Whats App is free to talk from wherever. I could go on and on but to be safe just ignore anything that seems strange to you. Remember if it sounds too good to be true it usually is.
The Identity T…
January 30, 2022

In reply to by Twinkle

The Twinkle 100% correct and true, I am a Victim of Identity theft. My problem starts with the unknown phone calls, and scam calls, and start opening credit card account, checking saving account on my name one after another, some of this account been open on my name I never heard their name before. But my point is that I blame most the credit bureaus like Experian which Saling people info to all company, Banks, Credit Card companies without their permission and authorization only because they want to be richer and bigger, I am hoping that the FEDRAL GOVERMENT stop Saling innocent people private information to everybody who asks for money, they aren't my parents they are not my brother or sister neither my friends. they are noting to me
AJM
January 27, 2022

In reply to by Consumed2

I receive tons of scammy emails, but over the years I have received only one or two scammy texts. I think this is because I have just not given out my cell phone number very often.
Don't use your…
January 30, 2022

In reply to by Consumed2

I am going thru the same thing! I’m sick of it
IG User
January 27, 2022
Something related to this I noticed on Instagram recently, those types wanting to "pray" for you or offer some kind of spiritual guidance or anything of that nature, they'll start all friendly and concerned that they were "called" to help you or some nonsense then ask for "donations" - money. Seems really scammy and fishy to me so wanted to mention. Thanks for all you do! Be safe everyone. If it sounds too good to be true or why would a complete stranger "help " - it is and they don't. Not for free.
Mel
January 27, 2022
The text and email scams that I receive seem to come in waves. My advice: Turn off the option that lets others know that you have read the text. If they know that you read it, they keep after you. Then, block and delete all those messages. Good luck.
Brad97
January 27, 2022
You tell us how to avoid these scammers, but nowhere do I see that you have caught and prosecuted any of these scammers. We, as the American public, are of the opinion that nothing is being done to bring these scammers to justice. As a result, the scammers feel they have free reign to continue. All they need to do is find one sucker and they win.
Natasha
January 27, 2022
I received a text message,saying from Direct TV you have a promotion to pay 50% of your Montly Payment Call us at this number. The agent 'Samuel" told to my husband and I that this promotion involved e-bay. For that reason we have to pay the first 10 Months with the e-bay card. They told us to buy $500 of cards and give them the redemption code to pay 10 Months ahead. We did and when I called to the Company of Direct TV. We were told, they do not have that promotion. We were victims of scammers. Be very carful please.
lebarbar
January 28, 2022
I notice that I received "romance" inquiries when my posts were marked "Public". I changed that to "Friends". One less problem.
Cece
January 31, 2022
I have reported to the FTC and the IC3 my romance scam a few times. Lots of information was given and I mean lots! Emails, phone numbers, header traces, IP addresses, website addresses, names etc etc. I have not had one person contact me from either bureau! The point of reporting if no one gets back to you?! SMH
Star
February 03, 2022
I never answer my phone unless I know who is calling. I have been registered with the Do Not Call Registry for years but still receive scam calls and report all of them. Scam emails I forward/report to whatever company they claim to be. And I was getting scam texts in the middle of the night every night so had my cell phone company block all texts on my phone since I never text. Works OK so far.