HELENA – Social media can be a great way for people to stay in touch with friends and family. But it can also be an easy way for scammers to target you and get away with some serious cash.

“They’ll have some great opportunity for you or maybe they got in trouble traveling abroad and they need you to send them money,” explained Montana’s Office of Consumer Protection Investigator Marcus Meyer.

When you’re scrolling through Facebook and you get a friend request notification, be sure to check for red flags:

– Are you already friends with this person?

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– Do you have any mutual friends?

– Do you even know who they are?

“So people want to definitely verify that the request is coming from an actual human being, and if it’s someone that they know, call them and verify,” Meyer said. “So you never want to click on a request from an unknown person.”

If you do accept a friend request from someone, it could be a fraudulent account and may send you a message asking for money.

“It’s either excitement based, or fear based,” explained Meyer, noting the motive behind a potential scam message.

OCP says Montanans are not safe from social media scams.

“This is just something that continues to grow every single year,” Meyer said.

But just like other types of schemes, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

“The best thing to do at that point is to report it. They can report it to the social media site or contact law enforcement or our office to gather more information,” said Meyer. “But the thing they don’t want to do is to send them money or give them the information they’re requesting.”

So whether you’re catching up on the latest daily news or keeping up with the people you know, be aware of the potential scams everywhere.

For more information from the Office of Consumer Protection click here.

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