Now Abagnale, in his role as the AARP Fraud Watch Ambassador, is heading up a new campaign to help people avoid being taken in by social media scams that aim to steal their identity and drain their bank accounts. “Scammers have been using email and telephone calls to target unsuspecting victims for years,” says Abagnale. “Now, with today’s boom in social media use, the con artists are just as likely to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to execute their insidious scams to steal people’s money and identities.”
Protecting yourself online
The Pew Research Center estimates that 70% of Americans use social media on a regular basis. Older people, in particular, are vulnerable to being scammed, lured by too-good-to-be-true deals and genealogy scams that capitalize on the popularity of researching family trees and ancestors. Victims give up their credit card account numbers, Social Security numbers, and other sensitive personal data in hopes of finding out information about their ancestry, or scoring hot deals.
Abagnale offers the following guidelines for using social media without falling victim to these schemes:
• Do not post personal data such as your Social Security number (not even the last four digits), your birthdate, place of birth, home address, or phone number.
• Don’t post front-facing full-face pictures on social media; they could be used to create fake photo IDs and steal your identity.
• Lock down your privacy settings on your social media accounts so you have control over who sees what, and review your privacy settings regularly.
• Be careful about logging into the Internet on public Wi-Fi, where cyber criminals could be watching and waiting for you to reveal personal data they could use to hack into your accounts. The AARP Fraud Watch Network found that over 70% of respondents to a recent survey had accessed email, Facebook, and other social media through free public Wi-Fi connections.
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