By Sally Saville Hodge
The Facebook scam machine seems to be kicking into high gear again. Or maybe it’s just that some of my friends who don’t typically waste as much time on Facebook as I do (and thus have been less exposed to the most “popular” ones) recently happened to have some time on their hands.
I saw one of those friends today. He sheepishly told me, “Uh, I’m going to have to change my Facebook password. Got scammed.”
“Yes, I know,” I said a dab smugly. Hard to miss the post on my wall: “OMG! Its unbelievable now you can get to know who views your facebook profile.. i can see my top profile visitors and i am so shocked that my EX is still creeping my profile every hour.”
BitDefender, an Internet security firm, found that the “profile” scam generated more than 1.4 million click-throughs.
Last week, another friend got caught in a different one: “hahah mine is hilarious!!! check yours out 🙂 See what you’ll look in the future! This cutting-edge technology will show you exactly how your face will look in the future!
A month or so ago, yet another friend was posting at least three or four times a day about the “free” iPad he was testing…that if we didn’t likewise sign up soon, they’d surely all be gone. “Dude,” his friends begged in the comment fields. “You got scammed! Fix it!”
So what are these scammers after? Your personal information. In some instances, your identity. Or to get you to sign up for subscriptions that you don’t really want and can be expensive if you’re not wary. The list goes on…
You like to think you’re too smart to get caught up in these things. But face it. They can be insidious. Personally, I’m not all that keen to see how much more my looks will deteriorate in 20 years. Pass. But I’d love to get an iPad. Free is good. And I’ll admit to a certain amount of vicarious interest in seeing the latest shenanigans of Miley Cyrus or that twerpy Justin Bieber. (Yup, I got caught by the Miley scam.)
It’s all part of today’s brave new digital world. And the chances that you’ll encounter one (or more) are pretty high. Symantec actually analyzed a month’s work of public Facebook posts and found that 21 percent contained a link pointing to a Facebook application. And 73 percent of those were scams or malicious applications.
So what to do? Well, for starters, be aware. Firms like BitDefender, Symantec and Sophos all do a great job through their blogs of staying on top and warning the public of the latest scams and malware. They actually make for interesting reading and if you come away a little paranoid, maybe that’s a good thing.
But also just think before you click. It’s one thing if you’re a 20-something bobble-head and you and your friends actually communicate with liberal dashes of OMG and LMFAOs mixed in. Or with a surfeit of exclamation points. Or with the all caps key on when exclamation points by themselves just won’t do. But is the wording of the post typical of your circle? If so, I’m so sorry, and let’s move on.
Beware of photos with stars (particularly the youth set) in supposedly compromising situations. Of offers that sound too good to be true, since they probably are. Of…
Well, really, the list is unfortunately endless. Perhaps Symantec’s blogger Candid Wuesst puts it best when he says, “…stay vigilant with any message you receive from anyone in social networks, including your friends. Usually the sensational images or videos are not worth the risk, especially if it involves installing an application.”