What scams should I watch for on Facebook?
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Here’s another question on security from our #AskArcher show.
Edith asks, “I was wondering if there are any Facebook scams that I should watch out for?”
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We check in with Patrick C. Miller of Archer Security Group, Archer News Network’s parent company, for advice on how to avoid scams on Facebook.
“Facebook scams are pretty common,” Miller said. “It’s a way to reach to a lot of people in a short amount of time — and a lot of people that are connected to other people that like to share.”
Some scams involve “exchanges” that are really money traps, like the Secret Sister Gift Exchange or the Secret Wine Bottle Exchange.
“Really, they are just kind of like pyramid schemes,” Miller said.
These exchanges often follow a similar pattern. You ask, say, six people to throw in $10 or $15, and in theory you could get back 36 bottles of wine or gifts.
“It’s one of those too good to be true things,” Miller said. “You lose your money. And whomever you sent your money to may have some of your banking information or may have your home address or other information as well.”
One of the many Secret Sister Gift Exchange messages on Facebook. Image credit: Facebook
Lurid articles that claim to show some incredible revelation about a celebrity or politician can be a problem, too.
These “fake news” stories can poison your computer as well as your mind.
“The rule of thumb is generally — if it seems outlandish or too good to be true or over-the-top, it probably is,” Miller said.
“The term we like to use for many of these is called clickbait,” he explained. “They are just baiting you into clicking on it.”
If you click, you could get malware on your computer, which could in turn spy on you, steal your passwords and bank account numbers, or hold it for ransom.
The bad guys know you want to click and see dirt on someone you love, or someone you love to hate.
“Don’t fall for it,” he said. “If it looks just kind of too far off the edge, or looks too good to be true, just don’t buy it, don’t believe it.”
This fake news article spread quickly on Facebook in January 2018, Newsweek reported. Image credit: YourNewsWire
Facebook ads and bogus pages can be a problem, too.
“You’ll find, in some cases, fake businesses with fake ads and fake people, fake followers,” Miller said.
For example, shady companies often advertise great deals on expensive name-brand sunglasses on Facebook.
But try to buy, and you could end up with nothing but an empty bank account.
In one case, the scammers were tagging you on Facebook in hopes that you would click on their ad.
An example of fake Ray-Ban sunglasses ads on Facebook in Eastern Europe. Image credit: WeLiveSecurity
In another scam, you get a message on Facebook with a video link asking, “Is this you?”
If you click on it, you could get malware on your phone or computer, according to the Better Business Bureau.
In addition, clicking on the link can take you to what looks like a sign-in page for Facebook or YouTube.
If you enter your username and password, you have just given away your account.
They can hijack your Facebook or YouTube page and spread the scam to your friends.
A post about a scam offer for free airline tickets with the name redacted. Image credit: Kaspersky
Internet scammers will make fake pages and send you friend requests, hoping to trick you out of money or use you to make it look like they have many social connections —so they can trick someone else.
They may message you saying they lost their phone and they need your phone number, the name of your phone service provider, and a one-time password or verification code.
They can use that info to try to buy gift cards or gaming credits through your phone account.
Others will spread hoax messages through Facebook, perhaps hoping to scare people and get notoriety.
A Facebook user post about a hack, with identifying information redacted. Image credit: Facebook
Easy to check
Facebook reported that 2-3% of its pages are fake accounts in November 217, said Business Insider, which could add up to as many as 60 million fake pages.
There are many more scams on Facebook.
If you have any questions about a message you receive or a Facebook page you see, check online to see if anyone else has mentioned it as a problem.
“The good thing about Facebook scams is that they are pretty easy to search for on the Internet and validate,” Miller said. “Facebook is pretty public, and if there are scams going on, you can look around and see if it’s something you need to validate. You can easily just check Google.”
Search it up before you click or respond to a message. And when in doubt, don’t click or respond at all.
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Main image credit: Archer News Network