Facebook Scams : Expert Advice on How to Avoid

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Scams have been in existence since we invent money. It has gone through different forms, and countless efforts have been made to put an end to it. The world wide web is no exception, especially social media. As of 2017, Facebook has over 1 billion active users making it an excellent marketplace for scammers. Since its launch in 2004, countless users have fallen victim to different schemes. Here are the most common scams and how to avoid them.

1. Who Viewed My Profile?

Remember MySpace and Friendster? The social media platforms of the yesteryear used to show you who has been visiting your profile. The even had daily, weekly, and monthly reports of who among your friends frequent your page.

Strangely, Facebook (and most modern social media platforms) never implemented the feature. Until you see one of your friends share an app that allows them to find out their profile visitors. Of course, it is tempting to see who are your visitors, too.

How to avoid it?

Can you view who visited your profile? No. Facebook does not track such kind of data, and no third-party app can do so as well. Such apps would typically ask your permission to allow access to your profile.

This action opens you up to spam and identity theft. Once you click "Allow," the app can access any information available in your profile, including your list of friends.

2. Raffles and Giveaways

One of the easiest ways to tempt people in clicking any link is the promise of a prize. Free gadgets, gift cards, and people use cash in a lot of legitimate social media marketing efforts.

Unfortunately, scammers are also aware of this. Some may pose as authentic giveaways by reputable brands. Aside from asking for your information, some may even require you to purchase items using your credit card.

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How to avoid it?

Do not join giveaways from unknown sources. Even the ones shared by your friends. Once allowed access to your profile, these apps could post ads and links without your knowledge. If you are inclined to join raffles, be aware of Facebook's promotions guidelines.

Only join giveaways promoted by brands on their official Facebook pages and websites. Some may use legitimate raffle platforms, such as Rafflecopter.

3. Viral Videos

Viral videos are as exciting as giveaways. People can't seem to get enough of kittens or the latest celebrity scandals. Once you click the link to the video, you would be asked to update your video player or download software to play the video.

At this point, scammers get access to your profile. Worse, by installing the fake updates, it can infect your computer with viruses and malware.

How to avoid it?

Unless it is from Youtube, Vimeo, or other legitimate websites, do not click the shared video links. Be extra careful when there is a URL shortener such as goo.gl or bit.ly. While URL shorteners are harmless, it is often used by malicious websites to hide their true identity.

Facebook now allows you to watch shared videos without leaving the platform. The actual video appears whenever you post a link from Youtube or other video sharing websites on Facebook.

If you find your that there is an infection in your computer by viruses and malware, immediately conduct a scan using MalwareFox.

4. Polls and Questionnaires

Much similar to raffles and giveaways, polls and questionnaires rely on your interest to join the bandwagon. Commonly found in your newsfeed, people are excited to see and post how high their IQs are or which celebrity they should be dating.

Quizzes about to share your results, it will then ask you to allow permission to have access to your Facebook account. Once given access, it can infect your account and share posts and links without your permission.

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How to avoid it?

Just like the tips above, always practice clean browsing habits. Do not allow any apps or websites to have access to your account.

Legitimate websites with polls and quizzes do allow you to share your results, but it should not request access to your account or ask for login information. More importantly, only visit reputable websites.

5. Facebook Customizers

One of Facebook's difference with older social media platforms is the consistency of your Timeline. You can not personalize the page.

This inability does not stop malicious apps from claiming that you can customize your Facebook account for your friends to see. From changing colors to adding dislike buttons, it claims to allow you to personalize your timeline to your heart's desire.

How to avoid it?

There is no way to customize your timeline, aside from few things like your Headline or changing your banner photo. The Facebook layout is consistent, and so are the design elements.

Some browser extensions can personalize your page, but the changes are only limited to your browser. Therefore, they don't need access to your profile.

6. Phishing

Phishing is an attempt from a malicious source to gain access to your Facebook account and gather information. This scam happens when you enter your login information into a fake website or app. Some may copy the interface of legitimate sites such as Facebook.

Others will send you a message pretending to be Facebook representatives asking you to change your password using a link or threaten to close your account unless you update your personal information.

Once they capture your login information, cybercriminals have the freedom to log in to your account and even block you from ever accessing it. It is one of the most common ways to steal someone's identity as well.

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How to avoid it?

Make sure that you type www.facebook.com on your browser. You may also use Facebook's official mobile application. Also, be aware of Facebook's guidelines against phishing. Malicious websites often have grammar errors and inconsistencies in the design.

Additionally, always check the URL in your address bar. The web address should be consistent with the content of the website.

7. Identity Theft

You may be doing your part in protecting your Facebook account, but some of your friends may not be as vigilant. Some hackers may have gained access to one of your friends' accounts using the scams described above.

If you notice your friends posting and sharing links, ads, and spam posts that are not consistent with their usual behavior, their account might be compromised. Some may even message you asking for money due to some emergency. They may request a deposit using your credit card or Paypal.

How to avoid it?

Once you observe abnormal sharing and posting habits from one of your friends, especially if the content is not consistent with their general interests, confirm if they have access to their account and are aware of such posts.

A quick phone call to your friend can also save you from sending money to a stranger. Remember to never share credit card and other financial information on the social media platforms. Be sure to report the account to Facebook as well.

Last Words

With a few precautions, you will never have to worry about scams ruining your social media experience. Be careful with clickbait posts and malicious apps disguising as legitimate ones. Remember that your login and personal information should never be shared online. It is also a good idea to adjust your account's security settings and set-up two-factor authentication.

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