Facebook Scams That Seek the Vulnerable: How to Protect Your Sensitive Data
- by Brittany Day
If you think that the most common scams in the world involve money, you would be right! Money is typically the motive when individuals or businesses find themselves in a situation where they are hacked.
In this new digital age where everything is readily accessible online, it’s easy for hackers to reach out to whomever they can and get what they seek.
Facebook is one of the largest platforms in the world where people chat with family and friends and share new information. It’s also known as a place where millions of people like to shop. This immense popularity has made the platform very popular among cybercriminals looking to steal data that can be monetized for personal gain.
To help you recognize and protect against Facebook scams, let’s examine how they typically work, the potential repercussions of a scam, and best practices you can implement to secure your data against this prevalent and costly threat.
What Are Facebook Scams and How Do They Work?
One of the most common ways hackers make demands is by simply sending an email. With recent technological advances and hackers upping their game, attacks are becoming increasingly difficult to detect and stop. Over 90% of modern cyberattacks begin with a phishing email.
Phishing is a cybercrime in which a target or targets are contacted by email, telephone, or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking, credit card details, and passwords.
Facebook scams, in which individuals are contacted by someone who is not who they say they are, are a stealthy form of phishing that is on the rise. In these scams, links and attachments are often sent through messages trying to convince someone they are getting something that is not there.
Some of the most common scams are links resulting in another login request from Facebook or an email provider in which hackers are trying to access your account or direct messages with malicious links. Also, Facebook surveys are frequently used to harvest user information for identity theft, hijack accounts, or carry out targeted spear phishing attacks.
Hackers are looking for anybody who’s vulnerable and will fall for their trap. Some examples of recent Facebook Scams include:
- Aussie mother loses $1800 in sophisticated Taylor Swift ticket scam on Facebook. According to 9 News Sydney, Karen, who did not want her last name to be published, purchased four Taylor Swift tickets from who she thought was a mutual friend on Facebook after seeing a post on a local church's Facebook group. She sent the money and received screenshots of the purchased tickets. Then, things started to fall into place when the seller requested an extra $100.
- Facebook Dating scam costs a person $160,000, Roseville police say. June 1 through Sept. 9. a person contacted the victim and began asking for funds to be transferred to them. According to KCRA 3, dating scams are uncommon, but they happened to this individual.
- Online security experts are warning of a phishing scam making the rounds on Facebook that aims to steal your Facebook login credentials or install malware on your device. According to ABC7, the message simply reads, “Look who died, “along with a link to what looks like a news article. But when the victim clicks on it, it asks them to enter their username and password in what appears to be a Facebook login page.
What Are the Repercussions of a Social Media Scam?
These scams show that scamming has many forms, and various deceptive methods and techniques are used to fool targets. Knowing how to reach the vulnerable when they need something goes a long way for attackers. Victims are often robbed of their information and money because they trust someone online. They don’t get what they pay for, such as the Taylor Swift tickets or the romantic date mentioned previously.
How Can I Protect Against Social Media Scams & Data Harvesting?
Protecting yourself against social media scams and data harvesting should be a priority for all social media users. To avoid these scams, here are some tips to follow for better protection:
- Setup Security – Many people think their accounts are secure and their details are hidden. Many also lock down their posts but leave open photographs, check-ins, etc. These are all great data sources for scammers to use against you. It is critical to lock everything down and test the setup. Open only the functions that you need to. (If you have security-minded friends or family, ask them for help. Sometimes, a second set of eyes spot missed settings.)
- Real World Suspicion – If you wouldn’t do it in the physical world, don’t in the digital world. Remember, just because someone says something is true does not mean it is. It just means they said it. Never assume anything is true until you verify it yourself. If it sounds too good to be true, 99% of the time, it is not true.
- Never accept friend requests from someone you don’t know. Social media platforms are all about connecting with people, but with so many fake accounts, users should always err on the side of caution when accepting a friend request from someone they’re not familiar with.
- Never click on links requesting personal information – Facebook will never ask users to click on a link to update their details. These links will nearly always be created to steal sensitive info or deliver malware. If unsure if the request is legitimate, go directly to Facebook Support through the official URL.
- Only enter personal information on a secure website – The URL on a secure site will always begin with a ‘https’. The ‘s’ stands for secure and ensures that all communication between your browser and the website you are visiting is encrypted.
- Use Facebook’s enhanced privacy settings – Regularly check and adjust your privacy settings to restrict what people can and can’t see on your profile.
- Receive phishing updates from Facebook’s security page – The Facebook security page will keep you updated with any news or updates regarding recent phishing attacks. All you have to do is like the page, and you will receive regular updates in your news feed.
Keep Learning About Protecting Sensitive Data Online
Protecting your data is very important in this day and time. It can easily be stolen if you aren’t careful or take the appropriate steps mentioned above to secure it. Always be on the lookout for phishing and data harvesting scams. Do not open links or attachments, especially from someone you don’t know. Be cautious of friend requests from accounts you do not know. Set up security if you’re unsure but want to be ahead of anything that may come your way.
These are just a few reminders of measures to take to protect your digital security. There’s much more information to help you learn about phishing, data harvesting, and email security. Guardian Digital has some excellent free resources for learning about these types of threats and how to protect against them:
- Learn how robust email security can help protect sensitive information.
- You can help safeguard your critical data from attacks and breaches by engaging in email security best practices.
- Learn how cloud encryption can help protect sensitive business data.
- Learn how data breach happen and how to prevent them.
- Get the latest updates on how to stay safe online.
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