New Social Media Fraud Emerging Just in Time for the Holidays – How You Can Protect Yourself

By Alexandra Blateri

The holiday season is quickly approaching! Whether you’re excited for cold weather,

Angler by Brett MacDonald

spending time with family, boozy egg nog, or red Starbucks cups, there is a lot to look forward to this winter. Unfortunately, the season also brings a slew of criminals trying to take advantage of holiday shoppers each year. The newest scam has been dubbed “Angler Phishing” after the creepy ocean creature that attracts unsuspecting fish to be its prey.

How it works

Due to the popularity of using Twitter and Facebook to resolve customer service issues, scammers have been creating fake social media pages for retailers and banks. These pages can be so realistic that it’s difficult to distinguish them from the company’s authentic pages. When customers reach out with questions or complaints about a business, the phony account replies and sends them a link directing them to log in on their website or app, which is also fake. Unsuspecting customers are signing in with their account information and may even fill out their credit card number or home address under the impression that it is a trusted retailer.

Image by Proofpoint

What you can do to protect yourself

Many companies have multiple social media pages that serve different purposes, which can make it difficult to figure out if a page is legitimate. Some of the phony accounts look almost exactly like the real thing. There are even ways to create a fake verified account symbol on Twitter. Rather than following a link sent to you via email or social media post, it is alway better to type in the company’s known website address to ensure you are going to the real site. This is especially important if you will be typing in any personal information.

With fraudulent mobile apps on the rise, it is important to do some research before downloading a retail or bank app onto your devices. Are there any user reviews? Are there typos in the app description? You may even want to visit the company’s website to find the link to the correct mobile app. It is also important to monitor your bank statements more closely around the holidays. Check to make sure all of the charges on your account are purchases that you have made or EFTs that you have previously set up.

It’s a shame that each new convenience of technology comes with con artists looking to exploit it. Remember to always be cautious when providing personal or account information. No one wants the gift of credit card fraud this holiday season. The holidays are stressful enough!




Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism