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Staying Safe in a Sharky Social Media Environment

Protecting your information online is becoming increasingly more important. With the growth of social media, millions of people can easily stay in touch, express themselves and stay in touch with friends, family and associates. Businesses like Farm Credit Midsouth can quickly and easily reach our Members and potential customers and disseminate information to the public. But, with all of the benefits come a few pitfalls. There are people who prey on trustworthy individuals looking for ways to catch them off guard and take advantage. With the prevalence of these ‘hackers,’ it’s important to proactively keep yourself safe and your account and information private and secure.

Using Social Media Safely and Securely

Here are a few helpful tips when browsing social media pages. It is generally safe to follow those pages in which you have an interest. Most importantly though, remember that whatever information you share becomes public and often is then the property of the social media site and may be shared by them or others.

  • Don’t share your password.

    If you have shared it or suspect it’s been stolen, you should change your password immediately, so you, and only you, have access to your accounts.

  • Change your password.

    It’s a good idea to change your password from time to time and choose a complex combination of letters and numbers, using upper and lower cases and other marks. And remember to use different passwords for each social media site.

  • Check your privacy settings.

    If you’re able to adjust the privacy settings, choose the right level to suit your comfort. Only choose to share the information you want with the people you choose to share it.

  • Control who can search for you.

    Social media sites will often let you make your profile “public”, where people can search and find you, or “private”, where people can only find you if you give them your address.

  • Don’t accept invitations to connect from strangers or from questionable pages.

    If the invitation comes from someone who shares a common connection, you might contact your mutual connection to confirm that the invitation is legitimate. As for business or public pages, check the spelling to ensure it matched the business name. Oftentimes, imposters replicate pages in an attempt to gain access to your information.

  • Use good judgment when posting online.

    Internet content will last online forever, so be careful not to post something that might embarrass you, your family or your business associates.

  • Use caution when clicking on links.

    When you see posts or receive messages from “friends” through a site that contains links, treat them like you would an email message to help avoid phishing scams.

  • Be cautious of “quizzes” and “games.”

    These are fun to take, but sometimes they are engineered to gather information about you.

Are you following Farm Credit Midsouth across our social media platform? If not, be sure to do so to make sure you don’t miss news, updates, product/service information, team updates and even a little bit of contest fun from time to time.

If you’re already following, you may have entered—or even won!—one of our contests. We’d like to continue to offer opportunities for our Members to win, and apparently imposter accounts come with the territory. If you receive any messages in your inbox, look for the misspelling of our name or anything else that may appear ‘off.’

Be advised that Farm Credit Midsouth would, at no time or for any reason, contact you via social media and request personal details or credit card information. The winner of any Farm Credit Midsouth contests will be announced on all of our social media platforms and it will be the responsibility of that person to private message (PM) us to claim their prize and provide a shipping address.

YOU CAN HELP US FIGHT BACK by blocking these imposter accounts and reporting any activity you may receive from them. Thanks for your help and thank you for following Farm Credit Midsouth.

Avoiding Scam in Social Media

Criminals troll social media the same way they do with email phishing scams. Use caution online to avoid common scams. Here are some tips:

  • Search your name.

    Every so often, enter your name into an internet search engine to see what information about you comes up. This is the kind of information a potential scammer would be able to find. If you think you’re sharing too much information, go to the privacy settings and restrict who can see your information and what information they can see.

  • Make sure you know your social media “friends.”

    When you receive a friend request, even if you know you have a friend in common, confirm that the request is legitimate. Make sure requests are coming from people who are actually who they say they are.

  • Watch out for unsolicited messages or callers.

    No one from the government, including the IRS, will ever call you or contact you on social media to demand money or your personal information, or threaten legal action if you don’t provide it. If the government needs information, they will send a letter by mail, which includes a specific number and a person to call. According to the IRS, “A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls or emails from people who say they are from the IRS urging immediate payment. Be wary of entering your credit card for any reason other than to shop on a trusted secure site.

The Bottom Line?

Be smart with your online presence. For most, the benefits of social media outweigh the negatives. By educating yourself on protecting your privacy and exercising common sense in your interactions, you can ensure a positive, productive experience on social media.

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