Are you one of the 2 billion Facebook users that are active each month? Have you received a friend request from someone you are already friends with?
Be warned, that since its beginning in 2004, scams and cyber criminals have become more visible and sophisticated. In a release from the FBI Tuesday, social media users should be aware of sites appearing to ”offer vouchers or gift cards that require you to fill out a survey, but that survey is designed to steal your personal information.”
The FBI also warns not to “post pictures of theater, concert, or sporting event tickets on social media—fraudsters can create a fake ticket using the barcode obtained from the photo.”
- Smartphone App Scams. Before downloading an app from an unknown source, look for third-party reviews. Some apps, often disguised as games and offered for free, may be designed to steal personal information from your device.
- Be on the lookout for online shopping scams. Scammers often defraud consumers by offering too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing e-mails or advertisements on untrusted websites—including offers for brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or promises of gift cards as incentives to purchase products. You may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information and credit card details in the process, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity.
- Don’t fall for work-from-home scams. You may see websites or postings offering work you can do from the comfort of your own home, but many of these opportunities have unscrupulous motivations behind them. Always carefully research the job posting and the individual or company offering you employment.
Facebook uses an algorithm to track users so it can provide targeted ads. It keeps track if you click “like” on something, or tag photos from specific locations and uses this information for marketing purposes. If you see a work-from-home or get-rich quick opportunity on your timeline or news feed, don’t do anything with it. Do not like it. Do not share it. Do not open it.
Some of these schemes will tell you they have the secret to getting rich from certain stock investments, for instance. But these unregulated scams are more like a form of gambling, not real investing.
The danger with these ads and suggested links is many people think they are legitimate business models but they could very well be a scam. Facebook permits these on News Feed. Just because it is on Facebook doesn’t mean it is safe. As long as the ad isn’t promoting an illegal venture, it can pass through the vetting process.
Another scam to watch for on Facebook or in your email inbox is something called a “phishing attack.” You may receive a message warning that your Facebook account is going to be disabled someone has reported the account as violating Facebook’s terms of service. They tell you that as the original owner of the account, you need to re-confirm its details to avoid having it blocked. If you do not click on the link within the message, Facebook’s system will block your account and you will never be able to use it again.
Danger ahead. Do not click on the link within the message. It’s a hoax. It will take you to a fake site. They want you to type in your credentials. If you do, the cybercriminal steals them.
Other scams include a Facebook message from a friend (who was also hoaxed) indicating they have a video of you on YouTube with a large number of viewers. If you click the link to watch the video you have been phished. The link is malicious and if you click on it, you will end up on a fake website and be asked to type in your credentials. Scammers will take over your account username and password to use it for malicious activity. People on your list of friends will start receiving these types of scams from YOU.
- Be cautious with links – If you get an email or notification from a site that you find suspicious, don’t click on its links. It’s better to type the website’s address directly into a browser than clicking on a link. Before you ever click on a link, hover over it with your mouse to see where it is going to take you. If the destination isn’t what the link claims, do not click on it.
- Watch for typos – Phishing scams are infamous for having typos. If you receive an email or notification from a reputable company, it should not contain typos. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
- Do an online search – If you get a notification that seems shady, you should do an online search on the topic. If it’s a scam, there are probably people online complaining about it and you can find more information.