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How to Stay Safe from the Latest Facebook Scams

How to Stay Safe from the Latest Facebook Scams

Facebook timelines reveal a lot more information than you might think. Recently, Facebook posted what social scientists have discovered by studying patterns like the amount of posts a person does each day, or the amount of likes and comments between two people. These patterns can help Facebook predict when someone is starting a relationship, for example.  Facial recognition software is now identifying you in your photos and in other photos in other Facebook accounts.  Facebook knows where you are and what you’re doing online.  Privacy experts have good reason to be concerned about the risk from social media.  Private investigators say sharing and lack of privacy is the perfect environment for scams.

Social data reveals patterns in human behavior itself. Believe it or not, our likes, pins, retweets, status messages, the content of those messages, and the people we are friends with can tell more about ourselves than any professionally written biography. And you´re making it public voluntarily!

What the criminals are after

The information we share in Facebook every day provides criminals with a clear enough picture of who we are, our interests, our fears, the stuff we care about and –very important- our vulnerabilities. So basically staying away from online scam starts with caring more about your online activity, not only about the content of what you share, but also about what your activity reveals –like the usual time in which you´re logged in, the places you visit, etc. Romance scam victims often say they were contacted by someone in Facebook who seemed such a perfect match that they forgot about being safe and didn´t even think of a dating background check until it was too late. That “perfect match” was no coincidence after all.

Internet scams are a serious threat and are not limited to just identity theft and romance scams.  High risk nations such as Russia, Romania, Ghana, Nigeria, Malaysia, Philippines, Ukraine, China and many more are becoming epicenters for fraud activity, where online criminals actively target victims on social networks in an endless combinations of scams, ranging from advance fee fraud to blackmail.

Other schemes have evolved that seem so simple, but can cause serious damage.  A “Facebook like” by itself won´t hurt anyone, unless you’re clicking on a link or profile of a criminal targeting you.  Once you connect with an online scammer, chances are that scammer can see all of your profile and gather enough information about you to steal your money or information.  Viruses and other software attack the user’s computer to gather credit card numbers, passwords or other personal information.   Never fill out a survey that asks personal information.  Malicious Facebook apps can also gather information like gender, location and age that can be used for personalized attacks.  Never click on any suspicious link.

What you can do to stay safe

As with most of the online scams, money and information is the objective.  Protecting your personal data, sharing less, and being very skeptical about what you click on, or who you become “friends” with can go a long way in protecting your safety.  If you meet someone on a social networking site or on Facebook, and you think you could have a relationship with the person, stop and verify.  Speak to a reputable private investigator about minimizing your risk, and verifying your new contact’s information.

Facebook’s team is working on cleaning up the spam apps and links, but criminals will always find new ways to access and target you.  No site is immune from fraud, so it’s important to verify new contacts and be careful about what you share.  Just ask yourself if it would be ok to share the information with a criminal the next time you post a photo or details about where you are on vacation.  Criminals love when Facebook users post information such as date of birth, employer, and that they are not at home.

Be safe online, and think twice before sharing.

C. Wright
© 2014 Wymoo International
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