People today use social media to connect with each other – renew acquaintance with old friends and colleagues and forge bonds with new ones. Social media networking also promotes the exchange of information between parties, and the growing role that this medium plays in all our lives has prompted businesses to look seriously into this domain and tap it to their advantage. The usage of social media is not restricted merely to communication but also extends to the banking and financial services (BFSI) sector. Many individuals today look at the Internet to help them with their investment decisions and even to carry out banking and other financial transactions, for instance purchasing insurance policies online, or paying insurance premium.
Unfortunately, with the good comes the downside as well – it is not just genuine individuals who are making their financial transactions online, but there are plenty of fraudsters out there who are attacking investors via the same digital platforms. So what all do you need to watch out for? Well, there are several things you should know about financial fraud on social media, read on for some insights.
The easiest way for someone wanting to perpetuate a fraud is to send out an email to an individual, offering them large sums of money as ‘beneficiaries’ to trust funds, requesting for confidential banking information such as a bank account number, credit card details such as the CVV number etc. This junk email is probably the cheapest form of communication, however fraudulent it may be.
Social media networks
Another way to reach out to the masses is by creating fake profiles on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Many people reach out for investment advice online, and while this may indeed get you the information you sought, it may also get you some unwanted attention. Hence it is important to be aware of what you are sharing online. Remember, the Internet is a public platform and everything is literally ‘out there’. While genuine help may be at hand, fraudsters and those looking to perpetuate scams are often found lurking behind fake identities. Be careful when you post, and what you post – avoid offering any personal information.
When you post personal information on social media (photos, or even information that you’re vacationing and hence away from home as you type), it is likely available for anyone to see. Not only do you leave your home vulnerable to burglar attacks, for example, but your personal details can be used to carry out a fraud that is alarmingly on the rise globally – identity theft. This is when your details such as identity and address proof, date of birth etc. can be used to create fake documentation. This can then be used further to obtain loans or make a credit card application in your name, thereby compromising your financial health.
Phishing and skimming
Again, a form of digital theft wherein an attempt is made to obtain sensitive information such as usernames and passwords, or Internet banking login details from the Internet. This is typically done by a fraudster masquerading to be a bonafide entity or person via online and social media tools. Most of the time, a phishing attack leads to financial loss, as does skimming. With skimming, your credit card details are compromised and someone with a mala fide intention can misappropriate funds and charge it all up on your card.
“When a person uses your card and does not pay the amount outstanding, remember that it is your credit score that will be impacted negatively”, says Arun Ramamurthy, Director Credit Sudhaar Services. Credit card companies report payment information to credit bureaus and this is the sort of information you do not want marring your record.
So what can you do then, to make sure you don’t fall prey to scams and fraudulent schemes? Here are some simple tips to get you started –
Whether you’re a newbie to the Internet and social media or someone who has been navigating digital pathways effortlessly for a while, the fact remains that being educated on the proper use of these mediums can never go wrong. Similarly, social media applications and programmes need to be developed carefully, to ensure that no user data is compromised and that the systems are not vulnerable to threats. Remember that as a user, social media can have its lighter moments, but you need to safeguard yourself to ensure that you do not have to pay a price.
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