A guest blog from The Digital Sheepdog
Here are 23 of the most popular Social Networking Scams to be aware of:
- Profile Viewers and Profile Blockers: These scams promise to show you who has been looking at your profile or who has blocked you from theirs. NONE of these apps work. Facebook doesn’t give the developers access to the data required to create them.
- Free iPads & iPhones: Don’t be fooled by messages stating you can test and keep an iPad, iPhone etc. These are all marketing gimmicks.
- Free Facebook Credits: This scam is targeted for the gamers on Facebook. Credits are used to purchase items in Farmville, Cityville, etc. Credits cost real money and you aren’t going to receive a large sum of them for free.
- Free Items, Gift Cards, Credits & Tickets: If it sounds too good to be true, then you can be sure that it is on Facebook! You aren’t going to get free airline tickets, Subway or Starbucks gift cards or a Facebook hoodie just by completing a survey. Scammers are promising free 1,000 or 2,000 credits if you click on the page they provide. Using fake testimonials, they lure people into clicking on three-four consecutive pages and fill some surveys. That is the trick. They are getting paid as affiliates to have those surveys done. Indeed, at the end of the survey, there are no free points, either.
- Breaking News Stories: Anytime a major news story breaks, keep your guard up. Scammers love to trick unsuspecting users with promises of “exclusive coverage.” One of the biggest breaking news scams on Facebook was the “ Click here to see the Osama Bin Laden gunshot wounds to the head” scam.
- Phishing Attempts to Steal Your Login Info: If a scammer can get your login credentials, then they can wreak all sorts of havoc before you reclaim your account. Messages pretending to be from Facebook Security is a popular way they trick users.
- Bogus Chat Messages: A compromised Facebook account uses rogue applications to send scam links to users via Facebook Chat. Be wary of messages that say something like: “hey is this you,” “look at you in this video,” “wanna laugh.” Don’t click any links received in chat until you verify they are legitimate.
- Shocking & Sexy Headlines: Anything that starts out with “OMG” or “Shocking” is best left alone on Facebook. They lure in victims with outlandish, steamy or perverted messages. These usually end in a survey scam and a video that doesn’t play. The newest scam is the “biggest pimple you have ever seen video”. Once you click on an image or video you are immediately linked to one of numerous websites where a supposed provocative YouTube screenshot appears and if you click on this you automatically open a share page on Facebook and place a link to your wall. The link will be the same sort of scam you just got hooked into.
- Fake Celebrity Stories: Facebook is not the place to receive your celebrity news and gossip! Scammers use fake deaths and other sensational stories to entice users. These often spread very fast, because users share the posts before verifying the story.
- “Help I’m Stranded and Need Money”: If you get a message from a friend stating that they are stranded in London or some other exotic locale, don’t rush down to Western Union to send them cash. They have likely had their Facebook or email account hijacked by scammers.
- Click/Like Jacking: Yet another Facebook scam that at the surface seems relatively harmless. This type of scam involves luring Facebook users into clicking on a link that accompanies a message that friends have ‘liked’. The link would then take a Facebook user to a page where they will be asked to perform an action such as clicking on a button that says the user is over 18. This action, in turn would activate a code that would automatically post a message that you have also ‘liked’ that subject on your wall and thus spreading the scam to your network.
- Subscription (Cramming): A scam that lures users to unknowingly subscribe to a service that will automatically charge their mobile phone accounts or credit cards. This is usually accomplished by taking Facebook users to a page that requires them to perform a series of actions (like filling out a questionnaire or answering what are your 10 favorite things) that culminates into the user giving his or her mobile phone number or credit card number.
- 419 Advanced Fee Scams / Romance Scams: This type of scam involves convincing Facebook users to send money in order to collect a lottery prize, to buy a non existent product, to become a part of a get rich quick or residual income scheme, or even to help a Facebook ‘Friend’ or ‘Lover’ in distress.
- Remove Facebook Timeline: There is no secret that several Facebook users do not like the present timeline on their profiles. The number is pretty big and most of the unhappy users are extremely vocal about it. Scammers have taken full advantage of this mixed bag of emotions by posting scam messages suggesting people can remove or disable Tmeline. What crooks have done is create a number of scam messages and rouge application/browser extensions that promise to show you how to disable the new Facebook timeline. By following their instructions, you are installing these browse extensions to your account and giving them access to all of your information. Facebook has stated that all products that state that they can remove Facebook TImeline and return it to the old Facebook are scams.
- Who’s Watching/Stalking/Creeping You: You receive a message on your profile, as a recommendation coming from one of your friends. Your buddy suggests clicking on a link to see who is virtually stalking you. If you do click on the link, you’re taken to a page that requests your permission to access private information. When you do so, the message immediately reposts itself on all your friends’ walls and you’re prompted to fill out a phony questionnaire. You won’t see your Facebook “stalkers” whatsoever. The whole thing is a scam to trick more people to installing the spamming app and clicking through to survey pages.
- Facebook Video Chat: Facebook recently launched a new video chat service, called Video Calling, which is powered by Skype. Taking advantage of the hype, scammers came up with a fake video chat application, which is a replica of the official feature. Whenever you try to open the fake application, you are asked to approve it and grant permissions to access personal information, to post messages on wall and access posts in News Feed. If you do, it automatically posts a message on your wall which leads to a survey page. The trick here is that the scammers get paid a commission when they provide people to answer the surveys. Alternatively, downloading the fake app leads to installing of malware programs, similar to the case presented in the Shocking News scam.
- Account Upgrade Needed: Similar to the Bank account upgrade scam, this comes as an e-mail requesting you to update your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, or PayPal accounts. The scammers inform you that the site is going through a revolutionary change to make communication better. To take advantage of the changes, you are required to log in by clicking on the link provided. The link opens a fake Facebook, Twitter, eBay, or PayPal webpage, which has – just like the real one – spaces for username and password. The duplicates are very well done, looking similar to the homepage of the above-mentioned websites.
- E-mail Quota Exceeded: You might be using your e-mail a lot for sending and receiving attachments, so you will not be surprised if the limit is sometimes reached. However, watch out for an e-mail that is warning you about your e-mail exceeding its maximum limit and sounds like this: ”Dear subscriber, this is to inform you that you have exceeded your email quota limit. You need to increase it, otherwise your email account will be disabled in 24 hours. Increase your email quota limit now and continue to use your account.” By following the link that the scammers provide, you give personal info, starting with your email password.
- Inheritance Scam: You get a message (usually by email, but sometimes on the social networking sites as well) from somebody who claims to be the widow, the lawyer, or the children of somebody who recently passed away. It could come even from your pen pal, who has been developing a friendship with you in the last few months, but now somebody in his family just died. Most often, these deaths have occurred in a plane crash. The person will tell you that they got an inheritance in a foreign bank and they need help getting the funds out. You will be asked for help and – as a reward – you will get 20 or 30% of the total inheritance. You will be provided with an attorney’s number or somebody who will apparently take care of the whole process in that foreign country (usually Netherlands or England) and you are supposed to call him, to arrange the details. To start the process, the lawyer will need a few fees, which victims usually pay, knowing that they will get a good chunk of the inheritance later on. Needless to say, that never happens.
- Pinterest Fake Prize: Pinterest is gaining popularity and reports confirm numerous survey scams are making a home on the Pinterest site, where people share their interests through photographs or anything visually based. What these scammers often do is use a well-known brand to draw you in, promising you a free luxurious item just by clicking away and in doing so you are brought to a survey scam site – which, just like in any other cases, could lead to either identity theft or even downloading of malware on your computer.
- Twitter Sexy Picure: Never open a Twitter mention notification (of you) coming from somebody who has a very sexy woman as profile picture. Since Twitter doesn’t allow users to send direct messages to somebody who is not following them, the scammers tag you in their spamming posts, in order to get your attention. The posts contain a link which – when open – sends you to a porn site, or a Russian bride page.
- Your Account Has Been Hacked: Scammers hack into your friends’ accounts and tag you on a series of links that get automatically posted on your wall–let’s say 5 of them, one after another, within a few minutes. Then, using your email address found on your Info tab, they’ll send you an official-looking email saying that “Your Facebook account has been hacked” and you need to reset the password. You believe it, because you see those 5 posts spamming your wall! You click on the link provided to reset the password, and while you believe you do the right thing… you give the scammer all the information he needs.
So how do we protect ourselves from these scams:
- Be aware of what these scams are thus the reason for this posting
- When in doubt don’t click the link
- Keep your anti-virus and anti spyware programs up to date.
- Limit Online surfing to “trustworthy” sites.
- Optimize your Privacy/Security settings in your Social Networks.
- Limit the amount of personal information that you Place into your Facebook account such as personal email, home address, cell phone numbers, date of birth.
- Change and optimize your Facebook password.
The Digital Sheepdog
Image Source: socialmediadelivered