HOW TO: Avoid Facebook Scams

Scams are all over Facebook. There are stories telling users that Facebook will end on a certain date, miracle diet pills, celebrity sex tapes, and other shady posts. With a little vigilance, though, users can make sure that they're not continuing the chain. Miranda Perry, staff writer for Scambook, spoke with AllFacebook about ways that people can make sure that they're not giving away information to scammers or spamming their friends' News Feeds with malicious links.

Scams are all over Facebook. There are stories telling users that Facebook will end on a certain date, miracle diet pills, celebrity sex tapes, and other shady posts. With a little vigilance, though, users can make sure that they’re not continuing the chain. Miranda Perry, staff writer for Scambook, spoke with AllFacebook about ways that people can make sure that they’re not giving away information to scammers or spamming their friends’ News Feeds with malicious links.

Scambook is a complaint-resolution platform where customers can air their grievances and let others know about unscrupulous business practices and identity theft. The company also informs people of scams on social media, using its blog to write about the newest hoaxes that are going viral on Facebook.

Perry shared with AllFacebook some ways that users can protect themselves (and their friends) from Facebook scams.

Consider The Source

One of the most common Facebook scams involves links that either infect computers with malware or automatically share content to users’ Timelines. Perry said that by taking a couple of extra seconds to examine not only suspicious links, but the people who shared them, people can protect themselves.

For instance, if a fitness buff friend shares a link showing how she’s lost 30 pounds by using a weird old trick, or if a pastor shares a link purportedly showing Rihanna’s sex tape, odds are extremely high that it’s a scam. Perry said red flags should go up whenever someone shares something to Facebook that seems atypical of their nature. If users truly aren’t sure, Perry recommends calling or contacting that person offline to see if their account has been compromised:

The No. 1 step is just to look at the source and avoid clicking on links or sharing anything on Facebook that seems suspicious. For instance, if you know that your friend is a super-skinny athlete, they are probably not going to be telling you that they’ve just used weight loss pills. If they’re posting that on their Timeline, that’s a pretty good sign that their account has been hacked.

Essentially, if something in your News Feed seems suspicious, it’s best to avoid clicking it and let that user know.

Facebook Hacks Can Be Scams

We all know that Facebook changes rapidly and without notice. But when the site does change something majorly, it goes through official channels to notify users. If you’re seeing something in your News Feed such as the ability to change the color of your Facebook account (or really do anything to make it look more like your old MySpace page), chances are extremely high that it’s a scam.

Last year, several people shared the Facebook Black scam, which reportedly allowed users to go from Facebook’s traditional blue-and-white scheme to black — but all it did in reality was lead users to complete online surveys, earning money for scammers. Similar hoaxes on Facebook have tricked users into thinking they could change their schemes to pink or red.

Perry said that users should be suspicious of any Facebook product, hack, or change that isn’t announced or supported by Facebook itself. Legitimate new features and changes (as well as hoaxes and scams) are covered regularly on AllFacebook, as well as sister site Inside Facebook.

Be Cautious With Video

Perry said many scammers are using videos to lure users into giving up personal information or putting malware onto computers. While videos may look legitimate and indistinguishable from legitimate YouTube posts, there are a few clues that users can find to see if they are safe: Look for the youtube.com domain name on videos, and be suspicious of videos with keywords or domain names you haven’t heard of.