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Beware of social media and career website scams

14 August 2015

You should be sceptical of unsolicited messages or requests received through social media or career websites. These approaches may be from scammers trying to trick you out of your money or information. 

These messages or contacts may be from people you have never heard from before, or occasionally from people you know whose profiles have been compromised.

Stay Smart Online has viewed a recent message to a user of a career website that claims to come from a ‘Senior Executive at British Council’ and asks to share a ‘confidential proposal’ with the recipient. The message asks the recipient to respond to an email address to progress the proposal.

You are advised to be extremely careful about accepting messages or requests from strangers that come through career or social media websites.

You should also be wary of unexpected messages that claim to be from people in your networks and invite you to click on links or open files. These messages may be, but are not always, poorly worded and include spelling and grammatical errors.

Scammers may use messages sent through social media or career websites to infect your computer systems with malicious software to capture sensitive personal and financial information. They may also use these websites and messages to:

  • Trick you into downloading ransomware, which may encrypt your files to make them inaccessible and demand that you pay a ransom for a key to decrypt your files to make them accessible again.
  • Enlist your computer as part of a network that they use to bombard a particular website with enough messages to crash it.
  • Ensnare you in a romance scam that may leave you broke and heartbroken. These scams typically involve deceiving a victim into believing they are involved in a romantic relationship. The scammer then starts asking for sums of money for various purposes.

Staying safe   

You should change your passwords to social media and career websites on a regular basis. Your passwords should all be more than 10 characters and include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and other symbols.

Be very careful about opening your social media or career website profile on a public or shared computer, or using public Wi-Fi, and when you have finished using the website ensure you sign out.

You should consider using two-step verification for your account.

Check directly with contacts that have sent you suspicious messages whether their account has been hacked, and if so delete the message immediately.

If you wish to connect with a stranger on social media or career websites, consider calling or emailing them directly to check whether an invitation or email in their name is genuine.

Keep your account information secure and ensure your privacy settings do not allow strangers to view details you would prefer to keep private.

If any of your online accounts have been compromised, report the incident to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN).

ACORN provides information on how to recognise and avoid common forms of cybercrime, such as hacking, online scams, online fraud, identity theft, attacks on computer systems and illegal or prohibited content, as well as offering advice to those who have fallen victim.

ACORN makes it easier and more convenient to report cybercrime to a law enforcement agency.

More information

Stay Smart Online has information on protecting yourself from scam or hoax emails or websites.