Social media scams a ‘significant concern’
Social media also connects us with complete strangers. And not all of them are who they claim to be. The ACCC says scams on social media platforms continue to be “of significant concern”, with Australians reporting losses of over $80 million to social media scams in 2022.
That matters at a time when many households are tightening their belts, and turning to social media sites such as Facebook Marketplace or selling platforms like Gumtree either to score a bargain or make a bit of extra cash selling unwanted belongings.
The reality is that scammers can be found wherever there is a buck to be made, and buying or selling items through social media can see us cross paths with cyber-crooks.
Part of the problem is that it can be hard to pick shysters from genuine people. But the latest scam doing the rounds comes with a twist: it targets sellers, not buyers.
How the scam works
According to media reports, the latest scam sees scammers pose as buyers of an item being advertised online.
They don’t try to haggle over the price, which in itself is unusual.
Instead, they make excuses about why they can’t meet up and pay cash in person – maybe they’re out of town, travelling or simply unavailable.
This paves the way for the scammer to suggest making payment for the goods via PayID.
That’s when the real trouble starts. If the seller agrees, the scam can follow this type of pattern:
* The scammer says there is some kind of issue with PayID – the common thread is that they’ll claim the problem lies at the seller’s end.
* From here the scammer asks the seller to make a payment to the buyer to resolve the issue – promising of course to return the funds.
Seen in this context, it can be easy to see how the scammer (posing as a buyer) draws money out of the seller. But in the cut and thrust of making a sale, an innocent seller can easily be taken in.
It’s a no-brainer that if the seller transfers any cash to the bogus buyer, it’s the last they’ll see of their money or the prospective buyer.
Worse still, the scammer may ask for personal details used by PayID, and use them to create a secondary scam. The scammer may also ask you for your personal email details to take you off the social platform to remove any online interactions.
How to protect yourself
Following a few basic rules of thumb can help keep your money safe.
1. Don’t be pressured into sending money
PayID is a free service. Anyone who asks you to transfer money because they need to cover the cost of PayID is likely a scammer.
2. Use to cash for making second-hand sales
Unless you personally know a buyer or seller, it can be safer to simply hand over cash in-person to secure a sale.
3. Request payment upon collection
Simply ask the buyer to pay you upon arrival rather than trying to deal with payments remotely. If the amount they need to pay is below the Osko transfer limit set by their bank, they can send the funds via Osko and they will be in your account within seconds, so you can be sure you have your money before they leave with the goods.
4. Be careful about handing out personal information
Any personal details you provide to a stranger can be a gateway to your bank accounts or personal ID. Think twice before providing PayID or any other information to total strangers.
Bear in mind, as soon as you press ‘send’ on an online transaction there may be no turning back – even if it proves to be a scam.
We're here to help
The bottom line is that selling – or buying – via social media calls for some extra care. You could be dealing with a genuine person. But you may also be looking down the barrel of a scam.
For more ideas on how to keep your accounts – and money – safe, please give us a call on 1300 13 22 77 or visit your nearest Community First store.
For more information on scams and what you can do to protect yourself, jump onto www.scamwatch.gov.au.