Facebook is supposed to be a place where you share recipes, post pictures of your kids, and try to avoid the spoilers for your favorite show. But it’s a virtual community. And like any community, it has its crooks. Scams make the rounds on Facebook regularly. Most are fairly harmless. Some can cause real damage to your wallet and your reputation.
Let’s start with the harmless ones:
- Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates (insert famous person here) Will Give Someone a Million Dollars – All you have to do is share the post and be entered to win. This one has been around since Facebook left the college campus. It’s not clear why this post keeps going around. It doesn’t seem to hurt anyone. It’s just annoying.
It’s understandable why people fall for it. Businesses use this as a legitimate tool for running giveaways. The basic rule of thumb is this: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Privacy Post – Nothing posted to your wall is legally binding. Therefore, posting a message that says “In response to new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my…” does absolutely nothing. You own the content you post and even if you didn’t, posting about it on your wall wouldn’t help.
And now the not so harmless ones:
- Phishing Scams – This is an old email scam that’s moved onto Facebook. Back in the day you got an email from a “Nigerian Prince” or “Canadian Businessman” asking you to help them cash in on a financial windfall. To get the money, you of course needed to give them your bank account number.
The Facebook-based scams are a little more sophisticated, but ultimately they have the same goal. They might ask you to fill out a survey to get a discount or ask you to write a review in return for a free product. All you have to do is confirm your name, account number, and credit card to get the deal.
Often these come from legitimate looking pages.
- Phoney Friends – A beautiful man or woman you’ve never met before sends you a friend request. You accept, because, why not.
Your new friend strikes up a conversation. The next thing you know you’re doing things in front of a web cam that you wouldn’t want your mom to find out about.
Suddenly your new friend is asking for money. When you refuse to send it your Facebook feed is flooded with embarrassing pictures. This is a real problem that’s been making the round in Maine. It was even featured on the Bangor Maine Police Department Facebook page.
There are more out there, lots more. But these are the ones we’ve been seeing most recently. The best way to protect yourself from scams like this is to think before you click. Offers that are too good to be true, friends you’ve never met, and scary threats with simple solutions, are probably going to cause you problems.
Let’s just stick to sharing videos of adorable animals.