Future Planning

Teens and Parents Beware, Social Media Scams Are on the Rise

BY Tribune News Service TIMEOctober 11, 2022 PRINT

By Steve Rosen
From Tribune Content Agency

Teens these days—and many parents too—are obsessed with social media. So are scammers looking for identity theft targets.

For victims, the day-to-day impact of letting your guard down can be life-changing, both financially and emotionally. And the problem appears to be worsening, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) recently-released 2022 “Consumer Impact Report.”

The report showed an alarming 1,000 percent increase in social media account takeovers over the past year compared with 2021.

The report reflects the responses of 120 victims who contacted the San Diego-based nonprofit consumer organization between April 2021 and March 2022. ITRC, which has released its consumer impact report since 2003, also sought feedback in an online survey of more than 1,300 consumers to gain a broader understanding of how identity theft had impacted victims’ lives.

Granted, the overall sample was small, but the findings should raise cautionary signs for teens and adults who spend time on Facebook, Instagram, online shopping marketplaces, and other social media platforms.

I’ve always felt that scammers were always one step ahead of the law when it comes to new ways of stealing personal information, such as Social Security numbers, and personal online accounts. Sooner or later seemingly everyone will be victimized.

The latest twist, according to ITRC, is known as the Google Voice scam. It works like this: When you sign up for Google Voice, or add a phone to your account, Google sends you a text message with a verification code to activate your phone.

Now the scam. Essentially, scammers pose as interested buyers and sellers on online marketplaces. But in reality, they’re seeking to steal your Google verification code to access your personal information and create a fake Google Voice account in your name that would then be used to scam others.

ITRC said some criminals are creating posts online to sell an item, rent a room, or look for a lost pet. The victim reaches out because they are interested, and the criminal requests a Google Voice code. In addition, the consumer organization said it has also received reports of scam artists targeting dating sites.

To avoid such scams, ITRC recommends taking your time while buying and selling. And if someone asks you to share a Google verification code? Don’t do it because it is likely a scam.

Other highlights from the report:

  • Nearly 40 percent of ITRC victims said their personal information was stolen, compromised, or misused in the past year.
  • 85 percent of respondents had their Instagram account compromised, while 25 percent had their Facebook account compromised.
  • 48 percent clicked on a link they mistakenly believed was from a friend.
  • 22 percent responded to a cryptocurrency scam.
  • Older consumers are falling for scams more than teens and young adults. Most than half were ages 55 and up, compared to 3 percent who were 18 to 24.
  • Most victims report losing less than $500, although there was a 30 percent increase in those victims who lost at least $10,000.
  • 66 percent of victims reported having a strong emotional reaction to losing control of their social media account, including feeling violated, feeling vulnerable, feeling angry and even suicidal.

If you’ve been victimized or want to report a scam, contact ITRC at (888) 400-5530 or visit www.idtheftcenter.org.

(Questions, comments, column ideas? Send an email to sbrosen1030@gmail.com.)

©2022 Steve Rosen. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The Epoch Times Copyright © 2022 The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.

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