Social media scams on the rise amid coronavirus pandemic, FTC reports


A man holds a smart phone with the icons for the social networking apps Facebook, Instagram and Twitter seen on the screen in Moscow on March 23, 2018. – A public apology by Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, on March 22, 2018 failed to quell outrage over the hijacking of personal data from millions of people, as critics demanded the social media giant go much further to protect privacy. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (WJW) — The Federal Trade Commission says social media scams are on the rise amid the coronavirus pandemic.

US consumers saw a record total of $117 million in losses to social media scams during the first six months of 2020, according to the FTC.

Topping the list of complaints were romance scammers, online sellers not delivering products and fake phone calls asking for financial assistance.

The FTC says 25 percent of all reports of social media scams were attributed to online businesses that received payment but didn’t deliver products.

Consumers also reported a high volume of direct messages via Instagram and Facebook in which users pretended to offer money in wake of the pandemic, but instead were actually trying to extort money or personal information.

The FTC says consumers can take the following steps to make it harder for social media scammers to target you:

  • Review your social media privacy settings and limit what you share publicly.
  • Before you buy based on an ad or post, check out the company. Type its name in a search engine with words like or “scam” or “complaint.”
  • If someone appears on your social media and rushes you to start a friendship or romance, slow down. Read about romance scams.
  • If you get a message from a friend about a grant or financial relief, call them. Did they really send that message? If not, their account may have been hacked. Check it out before you act.

Additionally, if you spot a scam you can report it to the social media site and the FTC’s website.

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