TikTok as a platform has become a global phenomenon, with over a billion-plus users active across 150 countries. The platform has especially resonated with the young generation, who actively use it to share fun and entertaining videos. At the same time, this popularity also makes it an attractive platform for cybercriminals keen to exploit its users for various scams. In this article, we review some common TikTok scams, how they occur and tips to avoid them.
Why TikTok Scams Occur
Cybercriminals are well aware that the primary audience on TikTok is young individuals under the age of 14. This makes them especially vulnerable to scams and social engineering, unlike adults who may be more skeptical and less trusting. Other users may be looking for relationships or ways to supplement their income. Again these groups can be targeted easily by cybercriminals and scammed into handing over their money or identity information through some of the following scams.
The social nature of TikTok makes it a platform on which various types of fraudulent activity can be easily carried out. The following are just a few examples but show the diverse nature of scams on the platform.
Some of the most common ones are:
- Fake Money Offers and Giveaways: This is a common type of scam in which users are promised cash prizes and other attractive awards as a type of giveaway. Posts and Videos are created, enticing users to click on links to enroll. However, these links are either malicious, contain malware, or are used to steal the identity information of the victims. Users must be highly skeptical of such schemes where rewards too good to be true are promised.
- Fake Influencer Accounts: This scam abuses the Influencer culture of TikTok in which scammers create fake profiles of famous influencers. The goal is to gain followers by copying the content of a famous person on TikTok to gain credibility. Once sufficient followers have been gathered, they use the account to promote fake content and links like investment scams. Users must always verify that the account belongs to the celebrity with the blue check mark indicating a verified account.
- Relationship Scams: This scam exploits users who are browsing TikTok for relationships. Scammers create fake profiles with attractive pictures that are typically stolen to create a fake persona. This is then used to lure unsuspecting people into online relationships. Once a trust has been established, these victims are tricked into carrying out financial transfers or payments. Users must be wary about using TikTok as a relationship platform and be mindful of anyone asking for payments or financial help.
- Phishing Scams: As with any popular social platform that allows direct messaging, phishing scams have also found a home on TikTok. These fraudulent messages range from fake TikTok support asking for account details to malicious links or payment requests. Users must exercise the same caution with TikTok messages that they do for unsolicited messages and report any suspicious ones immediately.
- Fake Products and Services: Scammers on TikTok can also promote fake or non-existent products to users to scam them out of their money. This can additionally extend to fake malware apps that can compromise their device. Scammers use fake accounts to promote these apps, which promise additional features for TikTok users. Users must ensure they only purchase and install verified products and services with credible reviews that are from trusted companies.
How To Avoid TikTok Scams
Along with awareness, users can follow the below tips to stay safe while using TikTok:
- Always be wary of offers that promise substantial monetary awards or other prizes for your email or other personal information. Verify these offers and report if they seem suspicious.
- Ensure you verify accounts that belong to famous influencers via the blue check mark. Be wary of any influencer asking for investments or contributions.
- Never click on links that come via messages asking you for personal information. TikTok has a feature that allows you to report suspicious activities, which helps to protect the wider TikTok community.
- Make sure you extend these tips to young users who might not be aware of these scams. Parents should take time to talk to their children and educate them about online safety, given the dangers of TikTok.
TikTok is a massively popular platform that can provide endless hours of fun for young users. However, it has also become a hotbed of scams and frauds, which young and old users must be made aware of. By spreading awareness of these scams, users can stay protected while enjoying the creativity and entertainment this popular platform provides.
Why do scams occur on TikTok?
Scams occur on TikTok primarily because cybercriminals target the platform’s primary audience – young individuals under 14, who may be more susceptible to scams and social engineering. Other vulnerable groups include people seeking relationships or ways to supplement their income.
What are some common scams on TikTok?
Common scams on TikTok include fake money offers and giveaways, fake influencer accounts, relationship scams, phishing scams, and the promotion of fake products and services. These scams often involve enticing users to click malicious links or hand over their personal information.
How can I avoid falling for scams on TikTok?
To avoid scams on TikTok, be wary of offers that promise huge rewards, verify accounts that seem to belong to famous influencers, don’t click on suspicious links, and only purchase and install verified products and services. It’s also important to report suspicious activities to TikTok.
How can I protect young users from TikTok scams?
Parents and guardians can protect young users from TikTok scams by educating them about online safety and the dangers present within TikTok. Encourage them to be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers, verify accounts before following them, and report suspicious activities.