Is That Really Your Face…book?

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Most people these days spend a lot of time on Facebook. A good percentage of this time is spent “chatting” with friends. When doing this, users take for granted that the friends they assume they are chatting with are who they claim to be. Someone may pop up on your chat asking, for instance, if you can follow a link to take a quiz to see if you can get a higher score. If this happens to you, there is a good chance the person you think you are chatting with has, in fact, been hacked and you are communicating with either the hacker or a bot.

How does this happen? While there is no easy way to find out just where breaches have occurred, most often the situation is quite typical. If your friend was in a coffee shop or library earlier and was using the Internet, he was probably using a public wifi source. Even though he later on was no longer in the coffee shop, the hackers still had his credentials and were using his profile to spread malware into the computers of his friends or to ask for money on his behalf.

Though it sounds scary, it is possible to protect yourself from much of the hacking occurring on Facebook if you are armed with the right information:

Types of Facebook Scams:

  • Take this quiz: Why do people make quizzes? To get information of course. Users who take such quizzes are often giving out personal information such as their home address or phone number which will then be used in some way for the personal gain of the hacker.
  • Friend in Dire Straits: No one knew your friend Gary was going to London this week, but alas you have just received a Facebook message from Gary explaining that he was mugged and needs you to transfer him money Western Union in order to get home. Chances are this is a scam. Pick up the phone and call Gary or someone who can confirm Gary’s whereabouts. And do not have any further communication with this account.
  • Koobface: This nasty little creature is a play on lettering of Facebook and it can cause all kinds of trouble. A video will be posted of something with an outrageous title, perhaps “I can’t believe you did this last weekend!” and in the name of curiosity you open the link which does not show you doing anything, but does open your computer up to all typed of malware.

How to avoid Facebook Scams:

  • Keep all of the information on your profile “private”
  • Make sure the friend requests you are accepting are really from your friends
  • Do not click on links unless you know who posted them and why

Even if you follow every safety precaution in the book, there is still a chance that you may become a victim of a Facebook scam. However, there are a few things you can do should it happen to you:

What to do if your Facebook Account is hacked:

  • Change your password: This may include not only your Facebook password but going back into your associated email.
  • Contact your friends: Let any Facebook or email contacts know not to trust anything provided via Facebook or email until personal notice from you.
  • Run a strong antivirus program: Even if you get control of your Facebook and email accounts that does not mean other malware has not been installed on your computer. Run a very thorough antivirus program through your system and make sure you keep it up to date.

While it may seem frightening to engage in this social network called Facebook, it is possible to spend time on the site and be safe and comfortable. Using the above knowledge and a bit of trust in intuition, you can avoid being scammed now and in the future.

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Nikki Junker

Nikki Junker is Social Media Coordinator and Victim Advisor at The Identity Theft Resource Center. She specializes in Identity Theft on social networks and smartphones. She enjoys working one on one with victims of identity theft as well as researching and writing about preventative measures for consumers.