INSTAGRAM TO INSTA-SCAM

29 July 2019

  • Celebrities who ‘overshare’ on social media could be putting impressionable followers at risk of being scammed or defrauded
  • New research by Santander reveals 40%1 of under 25s are influenced by what celebrities post online, with one in three (33%) admitting they have used an actual celebrity post to inspire their own content
  • 87% of under 25s confess to having shared personal details on Instagram that could leave them at risk of scams, with one in ten (10%) admitting they have both shared the name of a pet on Instagram and used it as a password

Celebrities’ social media habits seemingly have no bounds, from sharing intimate moments in bed, to posting cute – and not-so-cute – pet pics. But according to new research commissioned by Santander, their love of oversharing is putting their social media followers at risk of identity theft and social engineering.

With over a quarter (26%) of the Instagram accounts followed by under 25s belonging to celebrities, and 40% of under 25s admitting to being influenced celebrities’ posts, the trend of oversharing is particularly dangerous when it comes to the sharing of information commonly used for passwords and security questions – from pets’ names to dates of birth. In fact, one in ten 18-24 year olds have shared a pet’s name on Instagram and used that same name as a password.

Sharing personal details on social media isn’t just a TMI fail, but can also enable fraudsters to build up profiles of victims to use against them. This information can be manipulated to fraudulently apply for financial products in the victim’s name, such as loans or credit cards, or to socially engineer them into divulging more of their personal details or even transferring money to another account. According to the fraud prevention organisation Cifas, in 2018 there was a 26% increase in identity fraud among under 21s.

The research also revealed:

  • 87% of under 25s admit to having posted personal information on social media, and 78% confess to not knowing how to protect themselves from identity theft;
  • Among 18-24 year olds, nearly half (48%) have used the same password for multiple websites;
  • 11% say they have fallen victim to identity theft, and 36% say they know somebody else who has fallen victim;
  • Over a quarter (27%) have entered their personal details on a website using unsecure Wi-Fi; and
  • Only 12% of under 25s regularly update their login credentials on websites where they have shared personal detail.

Chris Ainsley, Head of Fraud Strategy at Santander, commented: “Constantly sharing details of your life on social media is often seen as a way of staying connected with your friends and family, but oversharing can open you up to being targeted by criminals. Make sure you get the balance right and don’t give fraudsters an easy ride. Check your privacy settings are on, stay vigilant and consider what you’re giving away before hitting post.”

Jodie Cook, social media expert, commented: “It’s worrying to see influential celebrities share so many personal details online. Sharing names of family members and revealing your date of birth is risky and is turning people’s social media profiles into a fraudster’s paradise.”

Santander has uncovered a selection of celebrities who are guilty of oversharing on Instagram, and whose online behaviour might influence young people to put themselves at risk. Compiled by social media expert Jodie Cook, the list acts as a warning, particularly to those under 25, a third (33%) of whom admit to copying the kinds of social media posts that celebrities share:

  • British singer and songwriter (25m+ followers): guilty of oversharing by disclosing his birthday.
  • American actress, model, and singer-songwriter (4m+ followers): guilty of oversharing by regularly posting the name of her pet.
  • American actress and producer (1m+ followers): guilty of oversharing by disclosing her husband’s date of birth.

While these are some examples, they are by no means the only stars to slip up. Earlier this year, a well-known soap star was exposed for sharing an image on Instagram in which he displayed his bank card, including full card number and expiry date.

Jodie Cook’s top tips to avoid oversharing:

DOB on the down low - Want to post a boomerang of that impressive birthday cake? Try to do so without including the birthday king or queen’s age or their actual birth date, or risk experiencing a very unhappy birthday;

Don't rovershare online - Posting pets pics and tagging their names might get the ‘likes' rolling in, but given how commonly they’re used for security questions, you might be oversharing just enough detail for fraudsters to take advantage;

Keep family details quiet - Avoid giving away details like your middle name or your mum’s maiden name - these are some of the most commonly used security questions and could land you in hot water;

Be mindful of those memories - Whilst it may be tempting to reminisce about childhood memories online, avoid disclosing where you were born. Dodgy characters could use this information to do some damage to your bank balance; and

Private means private: Keep sensitive docs out of sight - It might seem obvious to keep your bank cards and passports off the gram and other social media channels, but do check your pics before you post. Remember, out of sight, out of mind and out of trouble!

- Ends -

The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Notes to Editors

  1. Research undertaken by OnePoll on behalf of Santander UK in June 2019. The sample was 2,000 British adults who use Instagram.

About Us
Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. It has brought real competition to the UK, through its innovative products for retail customers and relationship banking model for UK SMEs. At 31 December 2018, the bank has c23,800 employees. It serves around 15 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking; and 64 regional Corporate Business Centres. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is the largest bank in the euro zone by market capitalization. At the end of 2018, Banco Santander had EUR 981 billion in customer funds (deposits and mutual funds), 144 million customers, 13,000 branches and 200,000 employees. Banco Santander made attributable profit of EUR 7,810 million in 2018, an increase of 18% compared to the previous year.

About Jodie Cook
Jodie Cook is an award-winning social media expert, and MD of JC Social Media, a UK-based social media agency working with a range of global clients. Highly experienced, she has spoken about social media marketing, best practice and security at events all over the world and has also published a number of books on the topic, including #Winning at Social Media and the 50 Great Ideas series.

Media Enquiries
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Deborah Lewis      T: 020 7756 4212      M: 07845 051939      E: deborah.lewis@santander.co.uk

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