Following recently released data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) showing an increase in social media related scam reports during the COVID-19 pandemic, on Thursday, state Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis warned all Floridians to protect their personal information from fraudsters.
According to the information, the amount of complaints regarding scams that originated on social media more than tripled in the last twelve months and saw a significant uptick last spring during the peak of the pandemic.
“As we continue to work to safely reopen our state during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not surprising that scam artists are working overtime to try and take advantage of our citizens and businesses during these challenging times. With more families spending time online right now, the best way to protect yourself from being a victim of fraud is to know cybercriminals’ tricks, which can help to identify a potential scam before it happens. If you feel yourself or a loved one is a victim of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com,” Patronis said on Thursday.
The FTC offers these tips to help keep be social media safe:
• Vet the company. Prior to buying based on an ad or post, review the company. Look for the name in a search engine with words like “scam” or “complaint.”
• Know who you are sending money to. Don’t ever give money to a love interest you have not met in person. It could be a romance scam.
• Check for message legitimacy. If you receive a friend’s message about a way to get some financial assistance, check with them directly. Did your friend send it to you? If not, let them know their account may have been hacked. If so, check it out before you act.
• Do your research. Before paying into an “opportunity” to earn money by selling products to your family and friends, check out ftc.gov/mlm.
• Limit what you post. Sharing too much can make you and easy target for scammers – examine your social media privacy settings to limit what you share publicly.