You know what they (they) say: “If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.” There is scarcely an exception in the cosmic rulebook. Please don’t fall for any lofty promises on Facebook, thinking this one or that one is different. And p.s., there are 10 times more scammers in 2022 than 2020.
Scammers are innovative and soulless. The bottom line is they want to rip off unsuspecting FB users, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. To do this, they monitor your preferences and Likes to better connive and cajole you with irresistible reasons to give up your account login creds, personal ID info or bank and credit card information.
Victims are Like Frogs in Tepid Water.
FB Scam 101: Say you suddenly get a FB message (via Messenger or post/comment) from someone you haven’t heard from in a while, simply asking “how are you.” Heads up! Don’t answer, but message the person back asking if they actually sent the message. If it’s someone you don’t know, don’t respond.
If you do answer without inquiring first, likely you’ll receive a follow-up asking if you know about [insert lofty promise you never heard of]; no comment on your recent family news. The scammer is leading you (not very convincingly) to think someone you know and trust is endorsing a scheme, product or service.
Some Top Scams in 2022:
Scams come in all sizes and shapes, like people. You have to know one when you see it, which means knowing what to look for. Phishing and romance are the worst offenders:
- Phishing scams (fake emails come with a link to a sketchy website)
- Romance scams (strangers use flattery or elicit pity to gain trust and/or post pics of themselves as widowed doctors or military hunks when they are not those people)
- Site-shifting (you click on Geek Squad and end up with Just Ask)
- “You’ve won!” (all you have to do first is send a little PayPal fee…)
- Bogus job opportunities (to apply, you must divulge personal info)
- Discount shopping (fake legit brand accounts push counterfeit goods)
- Fake charities (vet them on Charity Navigator, Guidestar or Charity Watch)
- FB quizzes/surveys (not to get to know you better, not just for fun)
- Fake friend requests (entire accounts duped to mimic someone legit)
- Suspicious links about you (“OMG! Is this you?” or “Have you seen this yet?!”)
- Fake coupons and discounts (nonexistent)
People Just Want to Belong.
Scammers know this. So FB users must, to a certain extent, keep diary entries to themselves.
Also important: When you Google something/anything – “Alexa setup” – often the first listing mimics the official site, but is an imposter company with a headline like “Amazon Alexa Setup” that paid to be the first option you spot.
If you click or call them, you could wind up chatting with a tech from “Just Ask” (there it is again) that advertises $1-per-answer assistance but whose bots and live agents will try and rope you into an expensive subscription service you never needed in the first place. Keep your eye on the URL.
Make sure to scroll down to the official website associated with your product or question. Look for the words OFFICIAL SITE. The second anyone mentions a fee or asks for your credit card info (especially when they say they’re not going to charge you), disconnect.
Never confirm that someone already has the correct last four of your social. Hackers will throw out these numbers to make you think they’re legitimate, or else how would they know something that confidential.
And remember, the IRS must always contact you by mail – or it isn’t the IRS and, no, you’re not in trouble.
Watchdogs like Group-IB Digital Risk Protection constantly monitor the World of Scam and can verify the frightening speed of expansion and sophisticated hierarchies emerging. But they are also quick to note that good old-fashioned schemes still work the best.
Here’s How to Protect Yourself:
- Keep your Facebook information as private as possible. While your cover photos and profile pics will always be visible, you can hide almost everything else from those outside your friends list.
- Enable two-factor authentication. A one-time code is instantly texted to your phone that will allow you to confirm you’re you before logging onto a site.
- Don’t accept friend requests from strangers, especially when they give you the glossy shtick about how beautiful your pics are, how interesting your posts are and how they really hate to bother you, but…
- Watch for suspicious links and don’t open them.
- Don’t reuse passwords. Though it’s tempting, it’s dangerous. Make your passwords cryptic (not your mom’s maiden name or child’s DOB). The only thing is – you must record them all in one place for easy recollection. It is way worth the effort!
If You Are the Victim of a Scam.
- Report it to Facebook immediately. Look for the Report option found on every page, post and direct message.
- Change your password.
- Freeze your credit.
Oh Baby, Baby, it’s (Not Always) a Wild World. Use common sense and be wary. Facebook is fun, but it’s also risky because it’s usually the first point of contact between you and a fraudster, whose world is a place where you don’t belong.