Online scammers are everywhere, using new tricks to prey on people, steal their money and personal information.

Reports from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows that consumers lost a staggering $9 billion to fraud in 2022.

Her troubles began when she announced on social media that she was looking for a house, leading to a flood of scam calls. Hamida Qanbari, a Columbia University student, shares her story of repeated encounters with scammers, revealing that, on one occasion, $180 was fraudulently charged to her credit card. “After two days I realized that my money had been withdrawn from my credit card,” said Qanbari. “I immediately called the bank and got the money back.”

The experience left Qanbari frightened, prompting her to change all her passwords, and she began ignoring calls from any numbers she did not know. “I missed many important calls at that time.”

The FTC highlights the concerning trend of scams originating from social media, resulting in reported losses totaling $2.7 billion since 2021 – more than any other contact method. Online shopping scams dominate social media, but the FTC points out that scams promoting bogus investment schemes cause even larger overall losses. These fraudulent investment schemes account for 53 percent of all the money reported lost to scams on social media in the first half of the year.

Chart Credit: Sourced from the Federal Trade Commission. A screenshot was taken due to limited access to the raw data.

Stressing the persistent threat of cybercrime, Maria-Kristina Hayden, CEO & Founder of OUTFOXM, a cyber consulting firm, emphasizes that scams and fraud have been around since the beginning of humanity, long before the internet. “It is kind of a scary time to be plugged into the internet,” said Hayden. “Things are much easier in the digital age and in the last few years with AI and machine learning, it’s becoming increasingly easy because of automation for criminals to come up with new lures, reach more people in less time.”

Secure Your Devices: The first step to protecting against any scammers starts with ensuring any internet connected device is secure. With so much personal and financial information being stored on phones and laptops, they are a gold mine for the would-be scammer to compromise. 

Begin by setting up a strong password and PIN on your phone, and avoid using the same passwords for different accounts. Keep your device’s software up-to-date to address vulnerabilities and bolster security.

Exercise caution with digital messages, and always verify the identity of those contacting you. When scanning QR codes, be vigilant, as they could potentially lead to phishing links. “What people are turning to QR codes for menus for parking payments and people are scanning them without realizing those are links to somewhere on the internet,” said Hayden. 

Be Aware of Job Searches: In job searches, caution is crucial, says Paige Hanson, 

a Co-Founder at SecureLabs Inc. Scammers frequently exploit job descriptions by reposting them on deceptive platforms.

“Your information is just kind of going into their space and you’re not getting it back,” said Hanson. 

To avoid getting scammed through job searches, Hanson advises individuals to be mindful of sharing personal details in the early stages of any applications. Providing information like social security numbers, addresses, and date of birth should be done only when essential, such as during background checks or when applying for government jobs that mandate security clearance.

Google Yourself: Take the initiative to search for your own name online to grasp what information is publicly accessible. Understanding your online content, including videos or posts, is crucial for managing personal information effectively.

Hanson recommends evaluating your online footprint and ensuring that social media profiles are set to private. This helps limit the information available to potential scammers.

Always remember that legitimate companies will not request personal information, login credentials, or financial details over the phone or via email. Exercise caution in the face of unsolicited contact and avoid sharing sensitive information in such situations.

In many cases, the best advice is to trust your gut instinct – if something looks too good to be true then it probably is. To avoid putting personal information at risk in an application that feels like this, it is best to verify as much information about the posting as possible to see if it is legitimate or not. 

What to Do After Falling Victim to Scammers?

For those who have fallen victim to scams, Hayden advises against succumbing to embarrassment, and recognizes the growing sophistication of scammers. Victims are encouraged to report incidents to organizations like the FTC. Sharing experiences with friends, family, or on platforms like LinkedIn can play a crucial role in educating others and fortifying defenses against scams.

Reporting Scams: Victims should promptly report scams. Initiating the process can involve filing a police report locally or submitting an identity theft affidavit on, the official website of the Federal Trade Commission. This documentation serves as an official record of the incident.

Also the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is ramping up its fight against scams by introducing “language access enhancements”. Fraud, scams, and deceptive practices can now be reported in a variety of languages, extending beyond English and Spanish. Individuals have the option to file reports in languages including Mandarin, Tagalog, Vietnamese, French, Arabic, Russian, Korean, Portuguese, and Polish.

Post-Scam Actions: Depending on the nature of the scam, victims should take specific actions. This may include contacting their bank or credit card company for financial losses or reaching out to lenders if personal information has been misused. Taking swift and targeted actions is essential in mitigating the consequences of the scam.