© TheStreet Top 7 Facebook Scams to Avoid
Facebook scams are growing more prevalent as digital fraudsters increasingly target social media users who leave their personal data on Facebook - at great risk.
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Case in point: in September, Facebook revealed that over 30 million user profiles were breached, with key personal data including names, contact information, gender, relationship status, and location check-ins being compromised, and potentially exposed to data thieves.
The recent Facebook breach comes at a time when law enforcement and information technology security specialists deem data fraud protection to be a big issue, and a big challenge - for Facebook users, companies and organizations, and even the federal government.
Recent data from Experian, one of the three major credit-reporting firms shows that, while companies share the blame for the recent uptick in data breaches, consumers are at fault, too - even as they downplay the threat from a cyber-breach.
According to the credit rating giant . . .
Americans use social media sites like Facebook for different purposes, including keeping tabs on friends and family, reconnecting with old friends, checking out the news, and to advance their hobbies, lifestyle interests, and careers.
In doing so, Facebook users may be leaving themselves vulnerable to identity thieves, primarily by "oversharing" personal information that I.D. Fraudsters can use to steal their personal data.
Even data as seemingly simple as your home address could be enough for a cyber-thief to crack your online identity. In that regard, it's imperative that you monitor and protect what you're sharing on Facebook.
What Is Facebook Fraud?To understand Facebook fraud protection, recognize the meaning of social media fraud, as well, as the two are commonly linked.
Data fraud, often linked to identity theft and identity fraud, is defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as "all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
Data fraud is often triggered by data breaches - the theft of sensitive, confidential information by unauthorized individuals who usually use that stolen data to commit cyber fraud - just like the one Facebook recently experienced.
By and large, data breaches can mean the theft of consumer finance data (like a Social Security number of a bank account PIN and password); the theft of personal data; or the theft of intellectual property.
While Facebook offers users stringent security options, especially in its "Privacy Settings" page, it's really up to you to protect your data as a Facebook user - online and off-line.
Seven Facebook Scams to Watch Out forLet's take a look at Facebook fraud specifically, examine the different scams fraudsters use on Facebook, and shine a light on effective ways consumers can protect their identities on Facebook.
1. The "See Who's Viewed Your Profile" ScamThis gambit tries to steer you toward a clickable link, and not toward any direct data showing who's viewed your Facebook profile. Instead, you'll likely be sent to a survey, gift card offer or content web page where you'll be asked to submit personal data, which a fraud artist can use to either sell your personal information or use it themselves to commit some sort of identity theft fraud. Always know that Facebook doesn't monitor who is looking at your profile like LinkedIn does.
2. The "See Who's Blocked You" ScamSimilar to the "view your profile" scam listed above, this tactic promises to provide a list of people and organizations that have blocked you on Facebook. Bypass any of these requests completely. By company policy, Facebook does not share the software data sets needed to show anyone who's blocking who.
3. The Facebook "Video" ScamThis scam is aimed at the inner ego of a Facebook user. It promises to release a social media video of you (or you as a part of a larger group) that has gotten a ton of "likes" on Facebook. Don't click on the link. There is no video, but there is a data thief who will take the information you provide and build a step-by-step targeted attack against your personal data.
4. The Facebook "Dislike" ScamFraudster's often use Facebook's ubiquitous "like" button as a springboard into this "bait and switch" scam. Here, the data thief will send you an email or text and recommend you enable a Facebook "dislike" button to use on the social media site. While Facebook is currently testing a dislike "arrow" in New Zealand and Australia), it doesn't formally offer a dislike button on its site. If you click on the "disable" request, you may unknowingly be installing malware software on your site, which fraudsters use to scoop up your personal data. Instead, delete any messages that steer you to a dislike "Facebook" button.
5. The "Fake News" Facebook ScamWith this scam, a financial fraud artist sends you an email claiming a major event has taken place, like a horrible plane crash or the death of a celebrity, along with a provocative image. You'll click on to the "news link", which is actually a mechanism to trigger a malware installation, which automatically targets and gains access to your personal information on Facebook. Avoid a data loss scenario and delete all emails with dubious "news" from someone purported to be linked to Facebook.
6. The "Your Facebook Account Has Been Canceled" ScamThis scam involves "phishing," a scam that tries to get you to respond to emails purporting to be from actual people or businesses and reveal your personal data, like passwords and credit card numbers. In this instance, the email purports to be from Facebook, warning you that your Facebook account is about to be canceled (in some instances the email may ask you to confirm your Facebook account.) The key is the scammer's request that you send your Facebook user name and password back in response, which a data thief can use to burrow down into your Facebook profile and steal sensitive information. To avoid this particular scam, never rely on an email for any official message from Facebook - the company will send any message directly on the site.
7. Product Testing ScamsWhile this scam isn't unique to Facebook, given the wide use of Facebook, it's one that fraudsters love to try out for size. Here, a message will pop up on Facebook offering you money, gift cards or an actual product if you "test-drive" a device, like an Apple iPhone or Apple Watch. Don't go for it. The gambit is not endorsed by Apple (and most reputable companies with other products) and it could lead to data loss if you click on any "product testing" offers.
History of Facebook: Facts and What's Happening
The best defense against Facebook fraud is a good offense (social media fraudsters don't like it when their targets vigorously arm themselves with robust tools and strategies to defend themselves and their personal data.)
How to Protect Your Data on FacebookHere is a list of preventative measures you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim of Facebook-related identity theft or fraud.
By and large, only share your posts and contact data with your Facebook friends, and not the general public. That should build a good wall against financial fraudsters who want easier access to your Facebook account.
This article was originally published by TheStreet.