Updated: May 3, 2020
As we dive deeper into the digital age, social media has become exceedingly prevalent in our society. With more and more people joining social sites like Facebook, fraudsters have seen this as an opportunity to create scams very specific to each platform. Let's take a look into the different scams that are used on Facebook, and shine a light on effective ways consumers can protect their identities and information.
1. The Facebook "Challenge" Scam
There has recently been a trend on Facebook that encourages users to divulge personal information. One of these challenges looks like this "My mother was a ___, my father was a ___." where you attended school, and where you were born. The answers to these questions are often used as answers to password security questions. Sharing any of this information can lead to identity theft, so think before you post.
2. The "See Who's Viewed Your Profile" Scam
This scam tries to steer you toward a clickable link that does not contain data showing who has viewed your Facebook profile. Instead, you may be sent to a survey, gift card offer, or a page that asks you to submit personal information in order to "view this list." Always be aware that Facebook will not send you a list of who has been viewing your profile, as it would be breaching their personal security clause. If you receive a link like this, delete the message immediately after reporting the account who sent it as a spam account.
3. The "See Who's Blocked You" Scam
This scam is the same as the one above. Facebook would never divulge any information pertaining to who has blocked you or muted you, so bypass these links completely or you run the risk of having malware installed onto your device.
4. The Facebook "Video" Scam
Have you ever gotten a message from a friend saying "I can't believe what you're doing in this video!" with a link attached or something along those lines? Has one of your "friends" threatened to release a video of you? This is a common scam on Facebook that plays on ego. There is no video when you click the link, but a data thief who will take the information you provide and build a step-by-step targeted attack against your personal data. Never click on these links, even if it appears to come from someone on your friend list.
5. The Facebook "Testing" Scam
If you are ever asked by "Facebook" or a "friend" to test a new Facebook feature, this is a scam. The most recent "testing" scam sends a message to unassuming users telling them they have been selected to test out the new Facebook "dislike" button, and provides a link to enable this feature. Do not click the link, as it will install malware onto your device and steal personal information. Facebook pays plenty of people to test their new software, and if they are wanting to test a new feature, they will release it to certain parts of the world -- not random people. For example, the "dislike" button is currently only being tested in New Zealand and Australia.
6. The "Fake News" Facebook Scam
For this scam, oftentimes a link will be sent around containing information about a major event, like a horrible plane crash or a celebrity death, along with a provocative image. You will click on the "news link," which actually will trigger a malware installation. When you click this link, it will also be shared to your Facebook for other people to click on (this perpetuates the scam and keeps it alive). NEVER click on these links -- instead, Google the information first to see if it is real (if the article title says "(Insert celeb name here) dead at the age of 39!" ALWAYS fact check it before you click on an unreliable link -- or copy the link and test it in the "link checker" section of this website!)
7. The "Your Facebook Account Will Be Deleted" Scam
This scam sends you an email pretending to be from "Facebook," warning that your account is about to be canceled (in some instances, the message may ask you to confirm your Facebook account). The scammer requests that you send your Facebook username and password back in response in order to verify your identity, or it will have you click on an external link. This is a phishing scam and is designed to steal your personal information. If Facebook wants to contact you, they will send you a direct message on the app itself, not an email. (Side note: Facebook would never delete your account if you don't seem to use it often or for any reason other than you have been reported too many times -- if this is the case, Facebook will send you a message on the app alerting you that this action is going to take place. Facebook will NEVER make you "copy and paste" a message to show them you are still active and to not delete your account. If you see this post being re-posted by many of your friends, it is best to simply move on. Your Facebook profile will not be deleted.)
8. The "Malicious Tagging" Scam
This scam all starts when you are tagged in a post with several other of your friends. Because you are tagged in a post with your friends, you assume the link is safe to click on -- in many cases, it may even appear that a friend of yours has shared this post. This is often a link to an "adult" video -- when you click on it, a pop-up window appears that prompts you to download the latest version of Flash before watching the video, which is really malware. Once you click this link, the post is shared to your Facebook profile. Some steps to avoid this scam: don't click links that contain descriptions such as, "exclusive," "shocking," or "sensational" footage; don't click on links that are shortened -- if you cant tell the exact website you're going to, it is probably a scam; don't always trust what your friends post because their account could have been compromised; report any and all scams you see so that you are able to stop the rapid spread of this malicious tagging scam.
Together, we can work to mitigate these scams and make social media a safer place for all people. Remember: think before you click!