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Consumer Alert: Throw A Net Over The Super Villains Of Facebook

8/25/2011

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By Rachel Newman

Technology evolves at lightning speed. As soon as we buy a new computer, it’s obsolete. There is a new operating system every week, and we are eating Facebook’s dust on a regular basis. Even more difficult to keep up with than the ever-changing landscape of technology, though, is the fast-paced world of the hackers and con-artists that inhabit the friendly pages of Facebook.

These “super-villains” cannot be thwarted by security setting changes or heightened awareness. They stay steps ahead of Facebook’s constant attempts to block them from the site. They even seem to come back stronger with each attempt. Lately, the BBB has noticed that these scams and their consequences have only become more prevalent on the leading social media site in the last few months. We want to help, so here is a breakdown of the Facebook “super-villains,” and their kryptonite.

· The Clickjacker. These scammers often appear after a big news story lands in the media. Seen recently in the aftermath of Bin Laden’s death and the Casey Anthony verdict, hackers present Facebook users with the opportunity to view an “exclusive” video. Once you click to see the content, the hacker now is able to gain access to your account and personal information, as well as spam your entire friend list with the same con.

ü The Kryptonite? Common sense prevails. Like most scams, you have to ask yourself, “Is this offer too good to be true?” If the answer is yes, then don’t click. How could you get word of a Casey Anthony confession before CNN, anyway?

· The Phisherman. It all looks normal, if this con-artist is doing his/her job right. You get an urgent email from Facebook to change something on your account or you could face deletion. You click the link and are taken to a login page. You enter your information, and that’s all they need; now they have your email and password as well as total access to your account.

ü The Kryptonite? Stop. Check the URL first. If you see this www.facebook.com/badguy’surltrick, navigate away from that page. Scammers use these smoke screen websites to trick unsuspecting users into sharing account information.

· The ‘Friend’ Who Cried Wolf. This is the youthful version of the ever-popular “Grandma Scam:” you are scanning your newsfeed when a desperate friend sends you a message that tells you they are stuck in a foreign country with no money and no chance for escape. That is, unless, you, their doting friend, can send over a large amount of money by wire without letting on to their parents. Do it quick too.

ü The Kryptonite? Take a breath and let this scary information sink in. First, try calling your jeopardized friend to make sure they aren’t resting comfortably at home. If you can’t get ahold of them, try a mutual friend or one of their family members. Verifying the information is key in not taking the bait on this tried-and-true scam.

· The Rogue. The scammer creates an app that looks real enough, but exists only to extract your email and password, as well as any other personal information they can access. These apps often use scare tactics insinuating they are an authority from Facebook. Recently a scam artist appeared to be advising users that Facebook was shutting down, and only those who accept his/her app would be able to remain on the site.

ü The Kryptonite? A healthy dose of skepticism should do you well. Check the author of the app or the page for typos or an unprofessional appearance. You can even try a Google search. Often times, you will uncover the truth within minutes of beginning your research.

For more information on scams, visit BBB.org, and to “like” the San Diego BBB on Facebook, visit our fan page.

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