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Beware Of Fake Deals And Phishing Scams On Social Media During The Holidays, Security Experts Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With Christmas just hours away scammers are taking to social media and preying on people through fake holiday giveaways and deals.

CBS2's Charlie Cooper spoke with experts to find out what you can do to avoid falling victim to scams.

Nearly a third of online commerce is done in the palm of our hands -- through smartphones.

"The more transactions we do on our phones, the more it draws the cyber criminals and folks to go where the money is," Cisco Security Business Group's Dov Yoran said.

Yoran says it can and does happen through virtually any social media platform.

"Over the past year we tracked about 75 different organizations or social media groups that were openly trading information. So credit card, social security, and other information on some of these social media websites and close to 400,000-plus individuals."

Individuals tagging random people in posts and sliding into their direct messages or DM's, enticing them with fake prizes and deals like one Cooper herself fell victim to – only to get people to share their information.

"They're telling us we could win something if we give them our information, our personal information," Danielle Mann said.

"Addresses, your card number, everything all your info," Emily Sakkal added.

It happened to Charlie Cooper. A person under the handle @godisdope_atl posing as a popular clothing brand called "God Is Dope," tagged her as a winner for a holiday prize then asked for her phone number, address, and cash app account name in order to deliver the winnings. They later attempted to take $500 from cash app account.

"A lot of it is what's called social engineering and so to protect yourself you're trying to limit the data and limit the things you're doing to expose yourself, your personal information, your computer, your smartphone," Dov Yoran explained.

Experts say you should be cautious of anyone asking for your personal information even if it's a brand you know and trust.

There's much to consider before you jump at that prize or deal, including simple things like the name of the account reaching out to you.

"Is this spelled funny, am I expecting it, is this deal too good to be true, there's just a lot of things that can seem off to these types of scams," Yoran added.

"I protect myself constantly by checking my bank account on a regular basis because the opportunity's there for everyone you just never know," Jeff Surut said.

CBS2 reached out to Instagram to find out what it's doing to protect app users from scams like these. There was no word from them. Cash app issued a statement saying no one representing the app will ever ask for your sign-in code over the phone, on social media, or at all.

They ask victims of phishing scams to change their cash app pin immediately and report it to their support team to be investigated.

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