Fraudsters leave no stone unturned in their search for easy money. The widespread use of social media like Facebook and similar platforms has given them a near captive audience for their sales pitches.
The situation is bad enough that the Cybercrime Coordination Unit (CYCO) of Switzerland issued a warning focused primarily on the fraudulent loans floating around social media. Facebook users are particularly affected.
Lending fraud on Facebook
Here’s how it works: fraudsters create fake user profiles on Facebook and decorate them with a few photos and “friends” to make them appear genuine. In some cases, fraudsters hijack actual Facebook accounts and use them to their devious ends.
These cheeky con artists then befriend or contact other Facebook users, or place ads to attract people who are desperate for a loan.
The standard tactic of fraudsters is to advertise extremely affordable and easy-to-get loans. A 3-year loan with a meager 2 percent annual interest rate and no credit check will ring a bell with most cash-strapped borrowers looking for an affordable loan in spite of bad credit. But a quick bank loan comparison shows that offers like the one above are completely unrealistic, and should trigger nothing but alarm bells.
Once con artists have lured a possible victim, they often request sensitive personal information. In many cases they also demand an interest pre-payment, typically in the hundreds of francs. Obviously the hapless victim never sees that money again, and does not receive the promised loan.
5 tips to protect yourself from fraudulent lenders
- Be very critical every time anyone offers you an exceptionally affordable loan. The more attractive the loan is, the more critical you should be. Always compare the offer with current loan rates and conditions at Swiss banks to get an idea of its plausibility.
- Be on guard any time a social media user proactively offers you a loan. Even if the rates and conditions they offer are not much lower than those provided by banks, you should still be wary. Serious lenders do not directly offer you loans via social media.
- Use a secure password to protect your Facebook account from identity theft. Your password should include letters, numbers and punctuation marks. An absolute minimum of 8 characters is a must for a secure password. Change your password on a regular basis to throw out any hijackers.
- Never share sensitive personal information over any social media channel.
- If you do encounter fake profiles, block these from contacting you and report these users to Facebook. You can also report suspected fraud to the Swiss Cycbercrime Coordination Unit (CYCO).
The moneyland.ch team
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