As we reported in our blog earlier, work-from-home scams are on the rise. Already popular with criminals, these scams are proliferating as more people are looking for employment from the safety and comfort of their own homes. For brands with an online presence, the increase in these work-from-home scams should be a concern, especially as many criminals are hiding their nefarious schemes behind trusted names and logos.
One area brands need to monitor for these types of scams vigilantly is social media. Over 3,960 billion people globally used social media in 2020, and with more people turning to social media every day, it’s a fertile hunting ground for criminals seeking new victims. In a report released by AARP, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 59,000 consumer complaints in 2020 about fake job and business opportunities, more than double the number reported in 2019.
Scammers are trolling social media, setting up fake accounts and profiles in order to lure in their victims, using well-recognized brand names and logos, as well as assumed and fictitious employee titles and names. These tech-savvy criminals are utilizing the same marketing tools as legitimate businesses, using pop-up internet ads, emails, instant messages, and social network advertising to reach their victims. Many of these scams are asking potential victims for fees upfront, or encouraging victims to click on links that lead to websites designed to skim personal information or download malware to their devices.
While many social media networks are actively monitoring their users and doing what they can to shut these types of activities down, brands need to remain hyper-vigilant when it comes to how their intellectual property is being used online and by whom. Brand currency is built on trust and goodwill and just one bad actor can undo years of reputation and consumer confidence. Shutting down infringing social media accounts and user profiles must be swift and decisive.
Brands need to have a comprehensive brand protection strategy that addresses the unique nature of social media. For more information on how to plan an effective social media enforcement program, we’ve published an informative guide that you can download here.