Editorial: Do some research before you jump in

Social media has allowed people to connect and find each other. Unfortunately, this has also provided another outlet for scammers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, “More than one in four people who said they lost money to fraud in 2021 said it started on social media with an advertisement, post or message” .

An event organizer in TBR News Media’s coverage area recently discovered that someone had created fraudulent social media accounts claiming to be a representative of his organization. When they took to their Facebook and Instagram accounts to warn the public, they discovered that their name was not the only one being used to scam local residents.

There are countless scammers who impersonate not only other people, but also businesses and non-profit organizations. During the incidents in the TBR coverage area, people created social media accounts promising vendors that they could secure their places at the organizers’ future events through the account using PayPal.

Incidents are just another reminder that browsing social media is the same as browsing the web: you can’t take anyone’s word for it.

The best thing to do when someone approaches you on social media asking for money — just like you would on the web and on the phone — is to ask if you can meet them. If they keep insisting you pay now, chances are they’re not who they say they are.

Anyone who legitimately represents a business would have no problem with you writing down their number and getting back to them. Of course, when calling or emailing a business, if you’re handing over money, you’ll want to be sure to research contact information before you call. Often scammers will go so far as to answer the phone saying the name of the business or create email accounts that will make it look like they are associated with the business.

Some may require a person to pay via PayPal or Venmo and similar payment apps, which may help a person feel better since a credit card number is not given out. The bottom line is that the money is still being stolen and will probably never be recovered. It is important that payers do their research.

Facebook’s Help Center also advises users to be suspicious if someone asks you “to move the conversation from Facebook to a less public or less secure setting, such as a separate email.”

Other things to watch out for are unverified pages claiming to represent a large organization or public figure, or a page that contains posts or posts with poor spelling and grammar.

The most important advice to follow is that if you think you have been scammed, file a police report by calling the Suffolk County Police Department at 631-852-SCAM (7226) and let the platform know. where the fraudulent account is set up.

Social media has provided a whole new world for interaction. With a little caution, it can be a pleasant experience instead of a dangerous one. A few additional treatments are enough.