With over 1.3 billion accounts, Twitter is inarguably one of the most popular social media platforms of today. It is a great place to connect with friends and coworkers, share experiences, get your daily dose of news, learn and develop skills, and make new friends. But it has also become a hotspot for scammers, hackers, and various other criminals. So, if you don’t watch out, you could easily fall for one of their schemes.
Common Twitter Scams to Avoid
While threats on Twitter can take various forms, here are the most prevalent types of fraud you stand to encounter.
This is a highly popular and versatile technique for targeting victims on Twitter as well as other platforms. It can, for instance, involve a direct message about a guaranteed job opportunity, which asks you to click a link and apply with your details. A malicious site could then collect all your data and use your identity to commit other frauds.
Email phishing is also common and is often used to collect account credentials. Twitter’s verified users saw a surge in phishing emails earlier this year as Elon Musk announced the platform’s new plans for verified accounts. Criminals took advantage of the new payment policy and were quick to launch their deceptive schemes.
Hackers could infiltrate your Twitter account and reach out to your friends and family members to target them for various scams. They could, for instance, send direct messages or post content using your Twitter profile and promote a fake product or investment opportunity.
They may also hack into your friends’ accounts and target you for similar frauds.
Criminals could often impersonate celebrities, CEOs, and other popular figures to manipulate ordinary users on the platform. For example, they could create a spoofed account identical to an A-lister’s profile and start promoting a crypto investment. These imposter tactics are incredibly effective in gaining trust and influencing large groups of celebrity followers.
Scammers could also mimic reputable businesses and organizations. The New York Post reported one such scam this year that targeted Twitter users who shared poor customer experiences encountered at banks. Criminals reached out to these individuals on the platform posing as bank representatives and directed them to a fake hotline to collect sensitive personal data.
Links and downloads on Twitter posts, messages, and comments can launch a malware attack unbeknownst to you. When downloaded onto your smartphone or personal computer, malicious software could track your activities and steal confidential information.
According to data from Twitter, bots account for an estimated 5% of the total accounts on the platform. Other studies indicate a much higher percentage. Whatever the exact number may be, chances are you have already come across plenty of bots yourself.
While they often seem harmless, bots can populate fake promotions, crypto investments, and a variety of scams, endangering your safety.
Essential Steps to Combat Fraud on Twitter
By understanding how to identify and prevent scams, you can effectively remain safe amidst their growing threats. Here’s what you need to do:
A cautious approach to unknown individuals and information you come across on Twitter can save you from many of the risks.
- Verify content before deciding to act on posts, messages, and emails you receive relating to the platform.
- Check user profiles to identify common signs of fraudulent accounts. These can include fake profile pictures, a short account history, a lack of activities and engagement, and fewer followers.
- If you receive a message from a celebrity or some other well-known individual, search for their name on Twitter first. Ideally, there should be only one official account. If you find more than one, then chances are you have encountered an imposter.
- When someone approaches you about an investment, job, or similar opportunity, search Twitter to see whether anyone else has received similar messages.
- If you are provided a number to call, use PhoneHistory to identify its owner.
- With Twitter-related email communications, avoid clicking on links to access specific web pages. Instead, go to the platform using the regular website address or app and search for the relevant page. Alternatively, you can also search for it on a search engine.
- Never click on links shared in messages, posts, and comments until you are certain of their authenticity.
- Unless you have verified the source, ignore requests for personal information or payments.
Extra research will go a long way in keeping you safe when you are contacted by a malicious actor. But you also need to adopt general safety rules and practices for a safe Twitter experience.
- Minimize what you disclose on your profile and via posts and comments. For example, never share your date of birth or contact details in your profile description.
- Never respond to unsolicited emails and direct messages.
- Avoid sharing your account username and password with others, saving them on the browser, or writing them down.
- To control who gets to follow you, activate the “Protect your Tweets” feature. This will allow you to check and approve follower requests and restrict your tweet visibility to your followers.
- Block any fraudulent or bot-related accounts and report them to Twitter.
- Use the “direct messaging” feature under Settings to allow only those you follow to send you messages.
- Turn on the controls for filtering spam and low-quality messages.
- Turn off discoverability features to prevent others from finding you through your email address or phone number.
- Deactivate data tracking, storing, and sharing by Twitter.
- Install a virus guard that can scan emails and downloads and flag unsafe web pages.
To Sum Up
From phishing and hacking to imposters, malware, and bots, you can encounter a variety of scams on Twitter. As an active user, understanding the risks is important to remain safe.
Sufficient research is imperative before you respond to messages, comments, emails, or any other communication you receive from unknown parties, both on and off the platform. Adopting general safety practices is equally necessary for a safer social media experience.