When a child is in danger, we all want to help. I get it. It’s part of the human condition. But when you see Missing Child alerts on social media, I need to warn you that you should pause and remain dubious. Do Not Share or spread that Post yet!

Missing Child posts may not be what they seem. And it is very difficult to know the truthful ones from the frauds. With some alerts, a child may truly be missing and in danger. In other cases, the minor may be fleeing from danger. They could be in hiding for their own protection, or sought after by a person who does not have legal custody. Or it could be a ruse or complete fiction, posted by Facebook scammers!

Here’s what to look out for in a missing person alert:

  • Legitimate: Clearly states a police department’s name and location
  • Legitimate: Asks you to call the police department if the person is seen and provides their emergency number
  • Suspicious: Gives only a personal cellphone number, asking you to call someone you don’t know
  • Suspicious: Asks you to privately message them with any info
  • Legitimate: Links to an article about the missing person, from a trustworthy news source
  • Legitimate: Links to an Amber Alert or other government missing-persons website
  • Suspicious: Makes no mention of the police or authorities being involved
  • Suspicious: Poster has disabled comments on their social media post

When you see a missing person alert that has enough legitimacy to it, please do share and help out. But if the alert is at all suspicious, stay your hand. If you can’t be sure, it’s best to not share, and just move on.