Social media scams

Fraudsters can use social media to send messages that pretend to be your family or a friend in need of help. It could be a random attack or a message from somebody you know whose account has been hacked.

Either way, it’s the start of a scam to steal your money.

We uncover these scams and their tricks to help you stay safe.

  • Hacked account

    Sometimes, fraudsters hack into other people’s social media accounts then target their contacts. Social media companies often fail to close or block hacked accounts. But our guidance can help you to avoid this scam. 

    This is an image of a hacked account scam message.

    Fraudsters pretend to be family or a friend

    Messages from a hacked social media profile, like Instagram, may seem genuine because fraudsters can copy the style of the person they’re pretending to be. Be suspicious if they mention a problem and ask you for money. Talk with the person to check they’re okay.      

    Did you expect to get a message?

    It might not be a surprise to hear from one of your contacts, except when they ask you for money. Fraudsters will say something bad has happened to make you feel sorry for them. Then it’s easier to convince you to help right away.

    Do they need you to act right away?

    Whatever problem fraudsters use to try to influence you, they’ll need you to do something immediately. Usually, it’s to send money to an account you’ve never paid before. But they may ask you to follow a link. Never trust anyone who wants you to do either of these things.

    Will they talk on the phone?

    Fraudsters pretend to be someone else, so they’ll use any excuse to avoid a call. And if you try the number from a message they won’t answer or the line will be unclear. Before you do anything else, talk with your family or friend on a trusted number.

    Do they want money?

    Fraudsters usually want one thing: for you to send your money to an account you’ve never paid before. That’s why they pretend to be someone who needs help. If you reply, it gives a fraudster the chance to trick you. Use a number you trust to check it’s someone you know who needs help. 

    If you think a friend or family member’s account has been hacked, call them right away.

    Report any suspicious messages on the app or social media site where they appear.

Random attack

All a fraudster needs for this scam is your phone number or social media profile name. Then they can send you a random message to see if you reply. 

This is an image of a random attack scam message.

Fraudsters pretend to be family or a friend

This scam often starts with ‘Hi’ from an unknown number or profile on social media, such as WhatsApp. It can also come by text. There won’t be much detail to start with as fraudsters want you to fill in the blanks. If you reply with any personal details, you give a fraudster the chance to use them to win your trust.  

Did you expect to get a message?

If you get a message out of the blue from someone who claims to know you, never save the new number until you’ve checked first. Talk with the person on a number you trust to check. Fraudsters may try to play with your emotions, like asking for help to pay a bill.

Do they know your name?

In a random attack, fraudsters won’t know anything about you. They can only get your details, like name or location, if you reply with them. Never reply to an unknown message. It could be a fraudster fishing for details. Just delete it.

Will they talk on the phone?

Fraudsters pretend to be someone else, so they’ll use any excuse to avoid a call. If you try the number from a message, they won’t answer or the line will be unclear. Before you do anything else, talk with your family or friend on a trusted number.

Do they want money?

Fraudsters only want one thing: for you to send your money to an account you’ve never paid before. That’s why they pretend to be someone you know who needs help. If you reply, it gives a fraudster the chance to trick you. Delete the message. Talk with your family or friend on a number you trust to check everything is okay. 

Report any suspicious text to your provider for free on 7726 then delete it.

On WhatsApp, press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘Report’ then follow the instructions.

Real life example of a social media scam message

This is part of a message that the police shared to warn people about this type of scam.

The first incoming message began:

Hello mum, I lost my phone a hour ago, still searching but can’t find it, I’m using my old phone now. You can save this number.

The woman replied: 
Hope you find it Soph, number saved xxx

The fraudster messaged back: 
Thank you xxx

No luck yet xxx 
replied the woman.

The fraudster messaged: 
No still searching x Are you busy right now? Because I want to ask you for a favor, I’m trying to get my banking app on this old phone but it doesn’t work, and now I’m stressing a bit because I have to pay a bill x

The woman answered: 
Ok Soph anything x

Give me the details Soph x

Then the fraudster sent: 
I’ve just made a online bank account so I can make online payments. Should I send you the details?

This message was sent to a woman in Cheshire on WhatsApp. Did you notice the tell-tale signs of the scam?

  1. General greeting that claims to be from a family member.
  2. A reason that explains the new number.
  3. They ask for money to help with a problem.
  4. They won’t speak on the phone.

The woman used her daughter’s name, making it easier for the fraudsters to chat. They told her they couldn’t speak because the old phone ‘can't ring’.

If you get a message like this, never reply. Always talk with the person before you do anything else.

Protect your family and friends: tell them about this scam.

Other scams fraudsters use to trick you

Learn how fraudsters can steal your money over the phone, through a dating profile or when you buy online.

Scam calls

Scam calls

Find out how fraudsters can use your details to win your trust.

Avoid scam calls

Dating scams

Dating scams

Find out how fraudsters can use your details to win your trust.

How to safely date online

Buying online scams

Buying online scams

Fraudsters sell fake items online or ones that don’t exist.

Buy online safely

Learn about the latest scams

Learn about the latest scams

Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to try to steal your details and money. Discover which scams are common right now.

Go to latest scams

Have you been targeted by fraudsters?

Have you been targeted by fraudsters?

Contact us right away if you think you’ve been scammed. We can then guide you on what to do next.

Contact us now

Eligible deposits with us are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). We are covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Personalisation. We will always greet you personally using your Title and Surname. We will never use ‘Dear User’ or ‘Dear Valued Customer’. Where you hold an existing account with us, we will quote the last four digits of your account number, such as your current account, savings account or credit card. If you don’t yet have an account with us but we have your postal address details, we may use part of your postcode. Internet Banking-related emails may also include your Internet Banking User ID.

Links. All links within our emails will go to a page on www.lloydsbank.com, or to trusted Government regulatory websites (e.g. Financial Ombudsman, Financial Conduct Authority, etc). Research emails may take you to a partner research company website but you will not be asked for any Internet Banking log on details.

In fraudulent emails, website addresses may appear genuine on first sight, but if you hover your mouse over the link without clicking, it may reveal a different web address. On our genuine emails the link address always starts with email.lloydsbank.com or www.lloydsbank.com. We will never link direct through to our Internet Banking log on page or to a page that asks for your security or personal details.

Stay scam safe

Learn how to spot and avoid scams, and how to report fraud.

Protect yourself from fraud

Stay scam safe

Learn how to spot and avoid scams, and how to report fraud.

Protect yourself from fraud