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Online forums and social media sites are great for keeping in touch with friends and family, but think twice about what information you put online and who can see it.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as nice as they first appear online and there are people who use social media to embarrass, harass and stalk people or to steal personal information, money and identities.

Scammers use social media to make their approaches more personal. They can learn a lot about you from your profiles, including who your family and friends are, your interests and where you work or live. Using this information, they can try to:

  • connect with you as a friend, work contact, or romantic interest.
  • approach you with fake shopping deals, giveaways or investment opportunities they think will appeal to you.

These scams can also appear as fake ads in your feed – be wary that just because a post appears as ‘suggested for you’ doesn’t mean the retailer is legitimate. In fact, investment scams, fake online shopping sites and dating and romance scams are widespread on social media.

What to look out for

Here are some tricks scammers use when contacting you, to make you think you’re dealing with someone you know:

  • they copy real profiles
  • they hack into legitimate profiles
  • they send phishing (scam) messages using legitimate-looking brands, logos or contact details.

Once they’ve won your trust, scammers prey on your emotions to pressure you into making a decision quickly, and to hand over your personal information and money – with no intention of giving you anything in return.

Get help

If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t feel embarrassed or helpless. Head to our Get Help page for steps you can take quickly to protect yourself from further harm, report the scam, or seek assistance if you’ve been the victim of identity theft.