By: Guest Author, John Breyault, National Consumers League
Many consumers find the popular social media site, Twitter, useful for staying in touch with friends and family and getting updates from organizations or famous people. Unfortunately, scammers see the millions of Twitter users very differently: as potential targets.
Scams on Twitter usually involve some kind of link or promise from either a user you don't know or a user whose account has been compromised.
A common scheme is for a scammer to create an account then follow or direct
message hundreds or thousands of other users. Each time a user is followed,
they receive an alert with a link to the scammer's profile. The profile often
contains links to malware or phishing sites. A recently popular method of this
is a direct message or tweet with a message like "lol is this really
you?" with a link attached.
Twitter users should ignore any direct messages or tweets that promise that by simply clicking on a link they will receive thousands of followers. Any "get followers quick" method promised by someone else is a way to steal money or private information.
Twitter is aware of scammers using its site, and shuts down the accounts of spammers users report, so users shouldn't hesitate to report a suspicious Twitter handle that displays any of the red flags. Other tips for using Twitter and avoiding the pitfalls of a scam are:
There are many organizations with Twitter accounts that work to protect people from online fraud and other consumer issues such as the Better Business Bureau (@BBB_US) and the Federal Trade Commission (@FTCgov), Visa Security Sense (@visasecurity), StopBadware.org (@StopBadware), StopThinkConnect.org (@StopThinkConnect) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (@StaySafeOnline).