Grandmas on Facebook – Watch Out for Fraudsters

It’s no secret that Facebook has long been abandoned by teenagers as their preferred social medial platform in favor of Instagram or Snapchat.  It happened as soon as parents starting setting up Facebook accounts and “friending” their children and their children’s friends.  Not cool.

And now it’s gone one step further with many seniors embracing Facebook as a fun way to stay connected with far flung family or their immediate community.  But like all good things, there is a dark side to Facebook and older adults are increasingly becoming the target of online scams through this popular social network.

More than half of all scams are conducted online and many through Facebook.  Scammers, posing as friends, capitalize on the trust between known associates.  Many of the social media scams are based out of Nigeria and may offer free money from grants once cash is wired to pay fees or personal information is provided for some type of government assistance.

Hackers can lock out the owner of a Facebook account and quickly target friends to trick them into sending money with the promise of free cash or a plea to help a family member in dire need of financial assistance.    Users should keep in mind they are unlikely to win any prizes or lotteries on Facebook and if asked to pay shipping costs or handling fees upfront; it’s a scam.

Each year, scams cost Americans $50 billion and affect nearly 1 in 4 households.   To keep safe from online fraud it’s important to remember never to give out personal or financial information of any kind or a social security number online.  No legitimate government office will contact you by phone, online or through social media.    And they most certainly won’t ask you to pay off a debt with gift cards.

To learn more about internet fraud and how to protect yourself online, visit the United States Money and Consumer Issue page by following this link.