MIAMI (CBSMiami) – According to federal data, cryptocurrency scams have skyrocketed during the pandemic. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that since October 2020, people ages 20 to 49 were five times more likely to lose money in these online investment scams.
“You want to trust your gut. If you have a bad feeling about someone you’re talking to on the internet, you want to listen to those instincts,” said Thomas Germain, a Consumer Reports technology writer.
READ MORE: Homestead Shooting Leaves 14-Year-Old In Extremely Critical Condition
Germain said other steps you can take include: not responding if it’s someone you don’t know, checking before you click on a link and limiting Venmo or cash app payments to friends only.
Mary Peplin said she thought she was messaging a friend from high school on Instagram. The 24-year-old shared her phone number and clicked on a link. But she said it turned out to be a scam.
“I started getting messages and phone calls from friends and family asking me, ‘Hey Mary, are you on your Instagram right now asking me for money?’ I think I had a panic attack. I was mortified. I was crying, I was upset. I did not know what to do,” she said.
Peplin called her experience traumatizing.
READ MORE: ‘No Contact’ Water Advisory Remains In Effect For Parts Of Miami Beach
“I was being treated differently by my peers because they thought, you know, I’m either a scammer or I was dumb enough to get hacked,” she said.
Peplin wants Instagram to do more to protect users like her.
Instagram provided a statement that reads, in part:
“We have sophisticated measures in place to stop bad actors in their tracks before they gain access to accounts, as well as measures to help people recover their accounts. We know we can do more here, and we’re working hard in both these areas to stop bad actors before they cause harm.”
MORE NEWS: ‘It’s Terrifying’: Neighbor Speaks Out After Suspected Serial Killer Officially Charged
Tech experts also suggest using two-factor authentication to access your accounts, and they say don’t reuse passwords.