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Social Media & Cyber-Scams

Fake Grant Scams
Scammers are hacking into people’s Facebook accounts and are messaging their friends and family claiming they are eligible for free grants. The message may come from a newly-acquired friend, a family member, or even a long-time friend, and details information on free grant money from the government.  The message may reference others, specifically those already in your friend list, who have successfully received grant funds.

The messenger eventually asks for personal information and a payment for processing fees in order to receive grant funds, often asking for payment by means of a wire transfer or pre-paid gift card. Do not provide this information; this is a scam. It is important to note that grant funds are never given to individuals as a personal prize.

Tips to always keep in mind on social media:

  • Be cautious with friend requests from strangers. Try to keep your social networking friends to those you know in real life, outside the social media platform. 

  • Do not assume an offer in a message from a Facebook friend is legitimate. Call or speak with the individual in person to verify they contacted you.

  • Government agencies do not communicate with individuals through social media channels. Be wary of unsolicited messages.

  • Educate yourself on the terms of a grant. You must first apply and go through an extensive approval process to receive a grant. Also remember, it is not “free” if you have to pay any fees to receive grant funds.

Read the Better Business Bureau’s articles, Scammers Are Using Facebook Messenger to Run Fake Grant Scams and Government Grant Scam, for more information and tips to avoid these scams.

Fake Banking Apps & App-Based Banking Trojans
Cyber-scammers create fraudulent apps designed to impersonate the real apps of financial institutions with the intent to trick users into entering their login credentials. The apps then provide an error message after the attempted login and use smartphone permission requests to bypass security codes texted to users.

Cyber-scammers targeting banking information also use banking trojans, malicious programs disguised as other apps (such as games or tools). When the user initiates a legitimate banking app, the previously downloaded trojan creates a false version of the legitimate banking login page to harvest the data and compromise the account.

Tips to avoid fake banking apps and banking trojans:

  • Be cautious when downloading apps on smartphones and tablets. Understand what permissions you are giving the application.

  • Only obtain smartphone apps from trusted sources like official app stores or directly from financial institution websites.

  • Call your financial institution if anything appears suspicious on the banking app. Be sure to call the financial institution at the phone number provided on their website.

Visit our ID theft resources page for more tips on secure online practices, or read our COVID-19 scams article for more information regarding pandemic related scams.

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