TSB urges consumers to beware of financial scams on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as scams across Meta’s platforms are increasing at an alarming rate.
The British bank analyzed its internal customer fraud data between 2021 and 2022. It found that Meta’s own websites and apps account for a whopping 80% of all fraud cases across its top three fraud categories: purchase, identity and investment fraud.
Facebook Marketplace is responsible for 60% of TSB’s purchase fraud cases, up 97% year over year. Remember that vintage table you had to buy in advance because the seller was conveniently in the Bahamas but vowed to deliver when he got back? Yes, that was a scam.
The bank attributes Facebook’s high numbers to two main factors: minimal verification of ads and seller profiles, and the lack of an integrated payment platform that would support secure transactions.
Meanwhile, identity theft scams – where “friends” or “family members” in need ask for money – are on the rise on WhatsApp, which has seen a 300% increase in 2022 and accounts for 65% of all cases. Facebook and SMS follow with 13% each.
Meta’s platforms are also responsible for 87% of all investment fraud cases at TSB. The majority took place on Instagram, which accounted for 67%. Facebook was second at 22%, followed by Snapchat, which is not owned by Meta, at 9%. The bank advises investors to be wary of get-rich-quick schemes on social media and to stick to reputable investment platforms.
TSB’s findings follow the announcement of the UK’s new fraud strategy earlier this week as the government seeks to crack down on the growing number of web and phone-based scams. Fraud is now the most common crime in the country, costing almost £7bn a year, with 1 in 15 people becoming a victim.
Some of the measures include a ban on cold calling for financial products, new technologies to combat number spoofing, and screening of the use of bulk SMS services.
The government also requires social media platforms to deploy systems that allow users to find a “report” button and then a “report scam or scam” button with a single click. Non-Meta TikTok and Snapchat already offer this option for ads.
“Social media companies urgently need to clean up their platforms to protect the countless innocent people who use their services every day,” said Paul Davis, director of fraud prevention at TSB. “In the meantime, we urge the public to remain cautious of potentially fraudulent content – and spread the word to protect those around you.”