Could Social Media be Making You a Fraud Target? 

Many people view social media as an outlet to unwind and keep pace with social networks. But as you’re posting pictures on your handle and catching up with followers, you might be attracting the eye of fraudsters. And you might not even know – until it’s too late. 

Social media platforms provide a landmine of information for fraudsters, making it easier than ever for them to perpetrate a crime. A motivated fraudster can glean a lot of information about you, such as: 

  • Where you live
  • Who you’re in a relationship with 
  • Your date of birth
  • Where you work 
  • Where you studied

Although seemingly innocuous, these tidbits of information can facilitate fraudsters in executing deceit.  For instance, lending institutions often ask applicants challenge questions about previous addresses and aliases. Fraudsters can use the information on social media as a starting point to glean basic information about you. Often, they’ll leverage the internet to drill even deeper to extract more details. This could include previous addresses, phone numbers, and relatives. Collectively, this information is sufficient for them to commit identity fraud.  

Alternatively, social engineering—where people are duped into sharing confidential or personal information—is also growing increasingly common. To enable this, fraudsters will hack into a social media account pretending to be you. They’ll then use your identity to trick or commit devious crimes, like ask for money or private information from friends and family in your social network. 

In some cases, social media platforms allow you to add contacts who can receive a six-digit code on your behalf to help you log back into your account in case you’re unable to access your email to reset your password.  A hacker who successfully gains access to your account might trick your network into providing that code so they can take over your account and engineer fraud. 

Many lenders are seeing an uptick in falsified documentation such as paystubs, bank statements, social security cards, and more. When a fraudster can easily gain access to your personal details, it becomes infinitely easier for them to fabricate these documents using online technology. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2021, over 95,000 people reported approximately $770 million in losses from fraud that happened through social media. 

To avoid falling prey to fraudsters, social media users can take a few precautionary steps: 

  • Remain aware of the latest ways fraudsters are using deceptive practices to target consumers 
  • Be vigilant about how much information you share on your social media handle with people outside your friend groups
  • Lock down personal information in your profile
  • Freeze your credit if you’re not planning any near-term large purchases
  • Put fraud alerts with consumer statements on your accounts, so lenders are required to call you before they issue a loan
  • Carefully secure and destroy any physical documentation, such as checks and bank statements, when they’re not in use 
  • Secure any documents you receive electronically 
  • Secure all email, social media, banking, and financial logins with one-time passcode phone authentication or 2-step authentication through a phone app when available.

Due to newer types of technology, things, like check washing, mail theft, and other older forms of fraud, have been making a comeback. Fraudsters are using these dated methods increasingly to apply for credit or file fraudulent tax returns, even going as far as to claim unemployment benefits. 

Point Predictive’s in-house fraud experts claim that most identity theft victims tend to have higher credit scores and be well-qualified buyers. Consumers who fit this profile are ideal targets for fraudsters because often lenders place very low barriers and friction on their credit approval. Therefore, fraudsters who assume these identities are more likely to get away with fraudulent purchases with very few pieces of documentation required to prove identity or credit worthiness. 

Subprime and credit-challenged consumers, however, see a lot more friction applied to their loan process. The increased amount of paperwork and documentation required from this segment to prove identity, income, and employment increases the likelihood that a fraudster committing identity theft will get caught. 

To learn how Point Predictive is shaping solutions that fight fraud and discover how we’re playing an active role in helping lenders mitigate risks, contact us