Frankenstein browses his phone. Text: Ancestry scams can lead to identity theft horror stories.

Protect yourself from social media scams

Social media scams move quickly. Sometimes your friends unknowingly spread a fake coupon scam because the deal is too good to pass up. Other times the con is harder to spot, especially with imposter scams mimicking a legitimate website. Click that link, and you are in danger of losing money – and getting your identity stolen. We've got tips to help you keep your social profile scam-free.

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Fraud Watch Network

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Shopping Scam

How it works:

Scammers set a lure with ads featuring too-good-to-be-true deals on hot items. These can show up as legitimate sponsored posts, or in a friend's Facebook timeline (a sure sign their account has been hacked).

The goal: to charge your credit card for phony goods (or products you never receive) and to collect your personal info for identity theft or to sell to other criminals on the black market.

What to watch for:

  • Those rock bottom prices are your biggest red flag: The links lead to imposter social media pages resembling popular brands and companies.
  • Check your settings: If an ad appears on your profile, change your password immediately. Also remove all suspicious apps from your account that can automatically post content.
  • Report: If you paid for a product through one of these scam sites, alert your bank or credit card company to cancel the transaction.
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Genealogy Scam

How it works:

Thanks to the Internet, researching your family tree is easier than ever. But since these sites are a goldmine of personal information, scammers are trying to trick people with lookalike pages or legitimate-looking free sites.

  • Be wary of sponsored ads that appear to feature well-known genealogy websites – even if the advertised link looks legitimate. It is very easy to change the name of links to appear that they are coming from a reputable source.
  • Before signing up to find out about your ancestors, search for the name of the company, and verify its reputation on genealogy forums and Facebook groups.
  • If you spot a friend sharing a sketchy-looking post, speak up.