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17 Common Facebook Scams You Should Avoid
Many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) often have Facebook as the only gateway to the outside world. Pressed at work and limited in leisure time, Facebook offers a great respite to connect to family, friends and even romantic prospects.
However, considering that Facebook has millions of users all over the world, it is only necessary that you stay cautious about possible online risks and dangers surrounding its use.
People have been victimized by Facebook scams in the past so learning about the common techniques used by scammers will help you avoid getting into trouble online.
1. Send money scam.
The approach involves individuals messaged by someone pretending to be family or a close friend who is in trouble. You will be requested to deposit money to a particular account, only to find out that the person is a complete stranger. Be careful when you get friend request from a friend you are already connected. That account might just be made up by a scammer.
2. Password request via email.
You will get an email that appears to come from Facebook, asking or your account password. If you understand how password request email works, then it’s easy to ignore such nuisance messages. Nevertheless, do not ever reply to the email since Facebook never requests for such. When you forget your password, it is you who initiate the request and not “Facebook” who might just be setup by some rogue but unsophisticated person.
3. Phishing – Websites pretending to be Facebook.
Hackers can make fake websites that appear like Facebook. As soon as you type in your username or email and password, the information will be saved for hackers to use later. To be sure, check the website address when going to new sites or when logging on to Facebook. Otherwise, your account could get stolen and compromised, denying you access and will be used by someone else pretending to be you.
4. Password request via notice.
This works almost similarly to the email version. You will receive a message or email that warns you about your account being at risk. You will then be requested for your password. Do not click on the link as it may either prompt you to enter your account details only to be stolen, or access a page that is infected with malware — software that do bad things like stealing your account information or slowing down your computer. Did your computer slow down significantly lately? Look back and check whether you have clicked such type of links on Facebook in the past.
5. Facebook game credits.
Hackers might put out a notice when you’re playing games that you can get credits by paying or giving out certain information. Always be careful when paying online using your credit card. Make sure you only transact on a secure environment. That is, do it only when the web browser shows the “https://” address with lock symbol and when you are sure that the site is a legitimate one — not a misspelled domain of a popular website.
Related: Top 10 Internet Scams
6. Who viewed your Facebook profile.
Filipinos are very fond of such feature (how many people did I attract today?) so rogue programmers can easily trick you into clicking on something in hopes you’ll find your crush secretly viewing your Facebook profile. You might be asked to install an app claiming to show who viewed your profile but asking you to fill in some details first before you proceed. Installing the so-called app might also lead to having malware on your computer.
7. Links to interesting photos and videos.
A catchy photo or video link might appear on your account or through a friend’s Facebook wall. As soon as you click on it, you might be led to a certain website where malware will instantly be installed on your computer aimed at stealing personal information such as stored passwords or credit card details. One hint is that the web address could be hidden on a popular URL shortener like bit.ly or t.co and message is predefined — instead of a custom text composed by your friend.
8. Facebook contests.
You might find some catchy offers where you can win free gadgets, Facebook game credits or even a brand-new car by clicking on the provided link or photo. This can also let hackers install malware on your computer.
9. Change your Facebook theme color.
You might also be introduced to an app that will change your Facebook theme or background color into something more visually appealing. This can lead to a virus or malware. Check the source first and talk to online experts about new features offered on Facebook to determine its legitimacy.
10. Facebook graph search.
Graph search is made by scammers to let people fill in important details about themselves that the unscrupulous creators can manipulate later on. Do not carelessly give out your home address, complete birthday, email address or phone number to anyone online. Such type of personal information can be used to, among other things, retrieve lost passwords, reset account settings or other transactions done over the phone or online.
11. Share and win a prize
You may have seen ‘multi-million lottery winners’ trying to share their bounty to those who share photos, or even popular people (like Bill Gates) offering money or gadgets if you get to invite people to share or like their photos. Looks too good to be true? Yeah, right. We can only give props to Photoshop and artistic people behind this somewhat realistic people. Or lament the fact that there are just too many gullible people on Facebook.
12. 419 scam
This scam involves befriending a stranger on Facebook. This friend can be a complete stranger hidden under your friend’s fake profile or disguising as someone else. He/she comments, shares or likes your posts to give you a positive feeling. But eventually, once you think this person is trustworthy, pulls out one of those often-used tricks. Getting robbed in a foreign land, lost passport, and so on. The only way he thinks you can help him is to wire funds, usually on Western Union, which someone can use fake names and identities to claim the money.
13. Attractive video
Depending on what attracts you to click — a sexy video, controversial (but fake) news or good celebrities gone bad — you could be a victim of a prank that could use your account to do the same sharing of the fake video on your wall, thereby putting your friends (the gullible ones) at risk of becoming carriers of malware.
14. Coupons, vouchers and free coffee
In the age of group buying and Facebook offers, it is possible to launch similar ploys disguising as the same as the legitimate ones. Free cup of coffee just costs you a click, and since it’s social media, if a friend does it, it must be trustworthy! Wrong, your friend is just one clueless sucker.
15. Dislike button
Someone may have posted a link that purportedly allows one to ‘install’ an app, a software, or whatever to enable this ‘feature’. Once you click on the link, you just became the latest addition of those who fell into the bait. Facebook must have played a role why people are desperate for anything that is synonymous to disliking wall posts. There is no dislike button for distasteful posts at the moment, and the best way to express it is simply to ignore what someone is sharing.
16. Your Facebook account is cancelled
Poor me, one might lament, of the apparent expulsion from the world’s most popular and often-used social media hangout. You receive a notification by email that you have done something outrageous or abused user terms and conditions and therefore you have been meted with account cancellation. But the email also tells you a method to get back to your account. This can be a phishing attack that could steal your account information or a link that leads to some random website.
17. Facebook charging members
Facebook is free to use. In fact many people insist that by using everyone’s personal information, members deserve some compensation from Facebook. Maybe FB heard you and instead slapped a fine for every single user. Or so we think. In another effort to persuade someone to click a link that leads to malicious pages, spyware installation or any page not related to Facebook’s new business model.
You can avoid being scammed online if you prevent yourself from being a victim — and that requires being informed and vigilant of possible attacks. This list hopefully has given good insight on what to watch out for the next time you explore around Facebook. Think before you click!