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Facebook Scam Risk and Your Privacy Lost – Is it Really Worth It?

Facebook Scam Risk and Your Privacy Lost – Is it Really Worth It?

Facebook has had its fair share of controversy since its very beginning.  No one in 2005 expected that one single website would connect 1.69 billion people worldwide. Since then, we have become used to new social apps and some of us have welcomed them in our daily lives. As time passes, Facebook may not be the most popular app anymore, but it is still the largest and it is owned by the same company that owns Instagram, another very popular social media network. Facebook specializes in amassing vast personal data of billions of people, which is a scary fact for anyone who understands the value of information.  Making matters worse, they conduct this surveillance and data collection without users’ informed consent.

Beyond the dangerous loss of privacy that users of social media experience, there is also another important factor: other human beings – online criminals – who are preying on the data that people voluntarily share, take advantage of these platforms to find their victims.

Our international private investigators receive new cases of Facebook scams and fraud every single day, but the problem has skyrocketed with the stay at home orders under Covid 19. People do not want to be isolated from the world. The current situation has made people more permissive regarding their social interaction: they are more willing to accept “friend” requests from people they do not know, they are more willing to connect and communicate with strangers, or send financial assistance to those in need. But this behavior is risky.

Scammers have always taken advantage of innocent people on Facebook, especially of those who are less computer savvy or less aware of the dangers, like the elderly or young people. The virus outbreak has worsened things, and the risks have exponentially increased.

Socialize online or protect your privacy?

The question is not whether people should avoid using Facebook at all.  There is clear evidence now that using Facebook and other social media platforms causes serious and negative problems in children and adults, leading to depression, less meaningful real relationships, and a host of other detrimental impacts.  It is understandable that people want to remain connected to friends and loved ones and Facebook is a great means for that. What we should question is what we are sharing through this app, and with whom.

People need to analyze what is there to win, and what can be lost, to really understand the extent of the question: is it worth it? Most would agree that it is not worth to have a criminal steal their identity, or to lose hard earned money to a Facebook romance scammer. To avoid the dangers, we need to be aware of the risks and have online contacts properly verified.  Proper verification early on can make all the different in the world.

How to avoid Fakebook privacy violations and scams?

Start with being very selfish about the personal information you share on Facebook. Provide as little as possible about yourself, no one will die if you do not tell Zuckerberg your date of birth, where you live, what school you went to, or what church you attend.  Zuckerberg and Company laugh all the way to the bank when millions provide their real dates of birth on Facebook, seemingly ignorant of the risks involved, and how Facebook profits from you.

By sharing less, not only will there be less information and data for Facebook to gather about yourself, but it will also provide less for scammers and criminals to work with. When people add details like being a widow, or attending a certain church, or any other detail, what they are really doing is providing a scammer with material to approach them.  For someone who provides their real name, date of birth, employer and their travel plans on Facebook, it is only a matter of time before that person learns how costly their mistake can be.  Criminals love when people publish on the internet that they are not at home.

Verify the people you meet through Facebook

Regardless of the nature of the communication, verify the people you meet online, especially those you meet on Facebook! Some might just want to be your friends, others might be looking for a romantic relationship, or some kind of business deal (like selling or buying things from you).  Millions of profiles are fake. Either way, a background check investigation is a simple way to make sure that the people you are contacting are who they claim to be.

Facebook is not harmless or safe! As long as you aware of the dangers and the safety precautions, it can still be a useful tool if you choose to engage in online relationships. Just make sure you are not handing criminals with the material to harm you.

C. Wright
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