How to Protect Yourself on Facebook
Facebook is an application that takes on an all-encompassing role in our social media lives. It is a space where we communicate with friends and family about our personal lives, browse through an endless stream of content, and interact with other companies and entities on groups and pages.
There are 1.63 billion active Facebook users on average, as of September 2019. That is over 20 percent of our world population. With so many people and groups vying for our attention online, it is obvious that not all of them are doing so with the best intentions.
Scammers are prevalent on Facebook, as they are on most digital platforms, whether that be emails or phone calls. Scams can manifest in fake accounts or hackers using your account to commit scammy actions. Avoiding Facebook scams may seem impossible, but there are some useful tips and adjustments you can keep in mind to keep the scammers at bay.
Be wary of questionable messages from friends
Of course, you should not be overly suspicious of your friends' messages, but if it seems abnormally worded or somehow how, be cautious before clicking any links.
Especially if the message is selling something or offering something they wouldn't normally offer, take time to reach out to the person in person before handing over any money or clicking any links. If you see your friend posting some questionable content on their page or commenting the spammy message on people's posts, chances are, their account was hacked and whatever message they are sending to you is a scam as well.
These Facebook friend scams often take form as:
Offers/Sales: Someone is trying to sell you something or is informing you of a big sale or deal.
"Can't believe you're in this!" A popular scam is a friend sending you something like "you're in this viral video!" with an unknown link attached. These scams are designed to be enticing to click on, but don't! The link is normally a virus or browser hijacker that will spread to you after you click on it.
Awards: People asking you to send them money or gift cards to receive a loan, prize or other winnings.
If you see signs of these scams with any sort of link or redirect attached, do not click on it. If you are unsure, reach out to the friend off Facebook to verify.
Watch out for unsolicited messages from governmental agencies or businesses
Often times, legitimate governmental agencies, corporations or other official groups will reach you via email or phone and not social media. If you are getting contacted through Facebook, it is most likely a scam (unless you reached out to them on Facebook first.
Lots of scams from companies will offer you coupons, free gifts, or a prize for winning a contest. Some common governmental agencies scams might include someone posing as a fake revenue agency requesting your financial information.
How to protect yourself and avoid Facebook scams
The most surefire and fundamental way to protect yourself on Facebook is to keep your log-in information secure. Never share your password or keep it on any online or physical documents. You've heard it a million times but it is important: create a strong password without any names or dates that are obviously related to you.
Some scammers may create fake websites that look like Facebook and tell you to login with your email and password, which they will later use to log into your actual Facebook page. Always check the website's URL before you enter your login information. If it doesn't start exactly with www.facebook.com, it's probably a scam.
Even though it might be common sense, some people still do this instinctively: don't accept friend requests from people you don't know. Scammers often create fake accounts to friend people and then spam your feed, posts and send you spammy messages. These accounts usually have no mutual friends with you, have little to no information on their Facebook page and come from completely different parts of the world.
Always make sure to log out of Facebook on any computer or device that is not yours. That includes public devices (libraries, coworking spaces, shared spaces) or even devices that belong to friends. This is one of the easiest ways hackers can access your account and commit identity theft.
Avoiding Facebook scams is relatively easy and only requires a few, common-sense adjustments and considerations.
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