How to protect yourself against what cyber security experts call new wave of social media scams

HOUSTON (WPVI) -- We live in a time where people can be highly dependent on social media. After all, it's an outlet for career growth and support. It's also made many quite vulnerable.

Now, cyber security experts are seeing how scammers and hackers are taking advantage of that vulnerability in a new era of scams.

"It's much easier for criminals today," said cyber security expert Ondrej Krehel.

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Krehel is talking about hackers on Facebook and Instagram.

"Instagram seems to be a platform, which has a high level of trust," said Krehel.

Users go live on social media, they're able to post stories in real time, and many share personal moments and grief.

Shortly after well-known Houston promoter Keith Nelson asked his 34,000 followers to pray for his mom, who was suffering from a stroke, his Instagram account was hacked.

The scammer messaged hundreds of friends requesting money to help Nelson's mother. In several messages, the hacker, who posed as Nelson, would write, 'I'm here with my mom and doctors.'"

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"It's kind of frustrating, using my mom," said Nelson. "People were texting me while I'm in the hospital like, 'Hey, do you still need that money?'"

Here are some tips cyber security experts say will help keep you from becoming a victim.

  • Use different passwords for all of your social media accounts.
  • Be sure to turn on the 2-step verification feature. This is an extra layer of security in case your password is stolen.
  • Create new email addresses to link to your social media accounts.
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