Be wary before you buy from these social media ads, warns the Better Business Bureau.

Social media scams pose a significant threat to individuals and their online security. In this post, we’ll delve into the world of social media scams, exploring their various types and providing valuable tips to help you stay protected. By familiarizing yourself with the red flags and implementing preventive measures, you can navigate social media platforms with confidence, knowing you’re well-prepared against potential scams.

Types of Social Media Scams:

You may have heard some of the most common ways people try and get your personal information or money

  1. Phishing Scams: Safeguard your personal and financial information by recognizing suspicious requests and understanding how scammers impersonate trusted entities.
  2. Fake Profiles and Friend Requests: Learn how to identify fraudulent profiles and avoid accepting friend requests from unknown or suspicious accounts.
  3. Romance Scams: Discover the tactics scammers use to exploit emotional connections and gain insights on how to protect yourself from falling prey to these manipulative schemes.
  4. Investment and Money-Making Scams: Equip yourself with the knowledge to distinguish genuine investment opportunities from fraudulent schemes, ensuring your hard-earned money is secure.
  5. Fake Contests and Giveaways: Stay cautious when participating in online contests or giveaways, and be aware of warning signs that indicate a scam.
  6. Malicious Links and Downloads: Learn how to recognize potentially harmful links and downloads that can compromise your device’s security.

A lot of these attacks may take the form of an ad.

How many ads do you see as you scroll down your Facebook page? Chances are that your page is filled with them. In fact, just about every time you visit a retail site or even type the product name during an online search, you might instantly find an ad for the product posted on your social media page.

Whether you like social media ads or detest them, the fact that you see them all the time has a desensitizing effect. We’re so used to seeing these ads that we often trust them more than we should. At least, that’s true of many consumer victims of misleading social media ads.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker has received “thousands” of complaints from consumers who were tricked or cheated by deceptive Facebook and Instagram ads, according to a recent warning issued by the BBB about social media scams.

In 2020, online purchase scams were reported most frequently and affected the most victims, according to the 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report. Online purchase scams have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, says the BBB.

Here are the 5 most common social media scams reported to the BBB Scam Tracer and how to avoid them.

1. Products claiming to support a charity

When you see a product or merchandise you like advertised on Facebook or Instagram, it’s hard to resist clicking for more information. And if the business claims to donate part of the proceeds of the sale to an animal rescue organization, children’s hospital or another worthy organization or cause, that makes the deal even sweeter.

Be careful, though. The charity donation ad could be a scam. “When your merchandise never gets delivered, the doubts start to build,” says the BBB. “When you contact the company about your purchase, they are suddenly unreachable or reply with an autoresponder. In reality, the product never existed. It was all a ploy to get your money.”

Find out: Watch Out for These Red Flags of a Moving Scam

2. Free trial offers

If you’re scrolling through Facebook and see an ad featuring a celebrity with flawless skin endorsing a skincare product or dietary supplement you can order and pay only “shipping fees” to receive, that’s a hard offer to pass up. However, hidden in the fine print of the “terms and conditions” that you accepted (without reading carefully) may be monthly shipments in excess of $70 to $100, says the BBB.

Before signing up for any “limited time offer,” research the company selling the product. Are there other consumer complaints about the offer or product found during an online search? Read any terms and conditions carefully before agreeing to them and be careful when checking any boxes on the website. No terms and conditions? That’s a big red flag, warns the BBB.

Find out: 7 Red Flags That Paid Survey May Be a Scam

3. Merchandise knockoffs

Be wary of social media ads for designer handbags and clothing priced significantly lower than the usual prices for these items. When you purchase low-priced merchandise that’s typically expensive, you run the risk of receiving counterfeit merchandise. Red flags that the ad could be a counterfeit product scam include prices much lower than what other retailers charge, poor quality images and spelling errors or typos.

Find out: Don’t Be Sideswiped By These Online Car Buying Scams

4. Impressive ads for cheap products

You may be so impressed by an enticing social media ad for trendy clothing or other products that you make the purchase without much thought. Impulse buying with a social media ad is a big mistake, however. When you make a purchase without researching the company, you could end up with no product and no response from the company’s customer service number or email.

Do an online search, typing the business name and the terms “complaints,” “scam” and “reviews” in the search box to find other customers’ experiences with the business. On the company’s website, look for “about us” or “contact us” customer service links to make sure it’s possible to contact the business if you’re not happy with your order or product.

Is the only way to contact the company through a form? That’s a red flag, says the BBB.

Find out: Don’t Fall for These Sneaky Package Delivery Scams

5. “Free” apps from unknown sources

When you’re scrolling through your social media feed and see an ad for a free app you think you might like, beware. When you download the app, you could be unwittingly signing up for recurring subscription fees, says the BBB. In fact, some consumers reported to the BBB Scam Tracker that they were charged fees as high as $99 a week.

Before you sign up for an app, read online customer reviews and the app description carefully. Make sure the developer’s website is a working website. Also, read the app’s terms and conditions thoroughly before agreeing to them.

Find out: How to Avoid Online Shopping Scams

Prevention and Safety Measures:

  1. Verify Profiles: Prioritize accepting friend requests from genuine profiles by learning how to verify their authenticity.
  2. Exercise Caution with Personal Information: Safeguard your sensitive information by being mindful of what you share on social media platforms.
  3. Strengthen Privacy Settings: Take control of your privacy by regularly reviewing and adjusting the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
  4. Be Wary of Suspicious Links: Learn how to spot suspicious links and avoid clicking on them to protect yourself from malware and phishing attempts.
  5. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Add an extra layer of security to your social media accounts by enabling 2FA whenever possible.
  6. Report and Block Scammers: Take immediate action against scammers by reporting fraudulent accounts to the relevant social media platform and blocking the user to prevent further contact.

Social media scams continue to threaten users worldwide, but by staying informed and implementing preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to these fraudulent activities. Stay vigilant, recognize the red flags, and take proactive steps to protect your personal information and financial well-being. With these valuable insights, you can confidently navigate social media platforms, enjoying a safe and secure online experience.

Get professional help to clean up errors in your credit report from identity theft.

Get AnswersCall To Action Link
Was this post helpful?
Let us know if you liked the post. That’s the only way we can improve.

About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by, LLC