Scams are a growing threat on social media, says FTC

Online security is increasingly difficult

James Martin/CNET

Last year was a big year for social media scammers, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Thursday, with 95,000 consumers reporting they had been defrauded in schemes launched on social sites, either more than double the number in 2020. Consumers reported a combined total of $770 million lost to scams, the agency said, or about a quarter of all reported fraud losses from 2021.

“The data suggests that social media was much more profitable for scammers in 2021 than any other method to reach people,” the FTC said in a blog post. Scams starting on social media have grown rapidly over the past five years. money was lost and nearly 19 times as many people fell victim to such scams, the FTC said.


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More often than not, consumers have been scammed when purchasing items advertised on social media and the expected products never arrive. People reporting this type of social media scam to the FTC primarily mentioned Facebook and Instagram.

“We have dedicated significant resources to combating this type of fraud and abuse,” a Meta spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement. “We also go above and beyond suspending and deleting accounts, pages, and ads. We take legal action against those responsible when we can, and always encourage people to report this behavior when they see it. .”

Although purchases that never arrived made up the bulk of scams, the costliest schemes involved fake investment opportunities or situations where a scammer faked a romantic interest before asking for money.

You can take steps to avoid online scams. The FTC suggests limiting who can see your posts and activity, turning off targeted advertising when possible, researching businesses before buying online, and being careful of impromptu online romances.

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