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The 6 Biggest Facebook Scams

by on December 04, 2012
in Computers and Software, Computer Safety & Support, Tips & How-Tos, Facebook, Tech 101 :: 30 comments

Facebook now has a billion users, with more than half of those people signing on every month. Unfortunately, crooks and scammers are also part of the social network’s population—they figure at least a certain percentage of users will fall for their shenanigans.

According to Chester Wisniewski, senior security advisor at the security firm Sophos, the number of Facebook scams in play seems to be holding steady. And while Facebook is trying to tackle the problem, the scammers don't give up easily when they can profit off unsuspecting people.

How do you spot a Facebook scam? Be wary of unlikely promises, Wisniewski says.

“No one is giving away an iPad to every person who fills out a survey and you aren't likely the specially chosen winner of the Nokia, Microsoft or Coca-Cola lottery, because there isn't one,” he says. “The best practice is to avoid clicking links on Facebook at all. It is generally safe to click links from trusted pages of companies, bands and groups you like, but avoid clicking links from your friends' walls and chat messages.”

Here are popular Facebook scams you should watch out for.

Change Your Facebook Profile Color

This “color changer v1.3” is actually a survey scam application, and you definitely don’t want to give it access to your Facebook account. It promises to let you change your Facebook profile color to something other than blue. If you click on the link, it asks you to “like” the app before it even does anything for you, and if you click on “continue” you’ll land at an app permission page. If you authorize the app to access your Facebook account it will send spam messages to all your friends. Not only that, if you actually click to install the app, it won’t give it to you until you fill out a survey.

Free Gift Card or Voucher

If somebody on Facebook tells you Costco, McDonald's, Starbucks or any other company is giving away vouchers or gift cards if only you invite your friends to the offer or click on a link—don’t believe it. If you do, you’ll end up spamming all your contacts with bogus messages about the fake offer, be asked to participate in surveys or prodded to complete “reward offers” in which you may be asked for personal information. If you supply your name, address, phone number or other things to these dishonest marketers, they can sell your data to others as well as harass you via non-Facebook media.

Support a Wounded Soldier

Sophos recently reported that a popular post making its way through Facebook that purports to support wounded soldiers is, in fact, a hoax. The text of the post is a variation of the following:

When filling out your Christmas cards this year, take ONE CARD and SEND it to this address: A Recovering American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20307-5001. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these soldiers could get to bring up their spirits! Feel free to repost. This is a wonderful thing to do !!

While idea seems like a good one, any cards sent in this manner will never reach an American soldier. According to hoax-busting site Snopes.com, the U.S. Mail will not deliver any letters or packages addressed to "Any soldier" or "Any wounded soldier" at Walter Reed, especially since Walter Reed closed its doors in 2011.

If you really want to send holiday mail to an unnamed service member, use the legitimate address found here.

Enticing Videos or Photos

This one can come through a Facebook post or email message. Either way, if someone invites you to check out a photo or video of something you just won’t believe—know that there’s most likely something nefarious waiting for you on the other side the link.

For instance, people who click on a link titled “Look what this girl wore at the beach in front of thousands of people!” will actually end up at what looks like a video feed, but if you click on it you’ll get a message saying you need to update your YouTube player. People who choose to install it actually are downloading malware to their computers. At the same time, hidden code will cause a Facebook “like” to appear on your Timeline, which will only encourage your friends who see it to also click on the bad video or photo lure.

A variation on this scam sends what looks like a Facebook notification to your email account, telling you that one of your friends tagged you in a new photo. If you’re curious and click on the attached ZIP file you will effectively unleash malware that will give hackers the keys to your Windows computer.

See Who’s Viewing Your Profile

This one claims to be able to tell you who is looking at your Facebook information, or as the scammers put it, “spying at your profile.” If you click on the link, you first have to “like” the app, which, again, only encourages your friends to click on the same bad link. From there, you’ll be asked to give the app permission to access your Facebook account. If you do so, not only will everyone on your friend list get a spam message from you, you’ll also be prompted to take various surveys—all without ever receiving information about who’s been spying on you.

Here’s what Facebook itself says about this popular scam:

Facebook does not provide a functionality that enables you to track who is viewing your timeline, or parts of your timeline, such as your photos. Third party applications also cannot provide this functionality. Applications that claim to give you this ability will be removed from Facebook for violating policy. You can report applications that provide untrustworthy experiences.

Copyright and Privacy Rights Protection Hoax

Recently there’s been a meme floating around Facebook that tells users that posting a particular legal notice to their Facebook wall allows them to retain the copyright of any content they post on the site as well as protect their rights to privacy. About this hoax Facebook says:

"There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users' information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been."

What to do if You Get Suckered

If, for some reason, you fall for one if these scams, make sure to remove any references to it from your profile and delete any bad app that has attached itself to your Facebook account. Do that by going to the small arrow on the top right of your screen, then Account Settings>>>Apps. Also, check whether you may have unknowingly "Liked" bogus sites or pages by going to your Timeline and clicking your "Likes" icon at the top of the page. Any Likes you don't recognize? Unlike them.

For more information about the various ways you can get scammed on Facebook, visit the social network’s scam page.

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Discussion loading

Thanks!

From Debbie Bakic Passmore on December 05, 2012 :: 12:41 pm

Thanks for this info. Good to know and to pass on.

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Thanks for this info

From Tufan on April 05, 2013 :: 10:49 am

Thanks for this info. Good to know and to pass on.

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Live scam

From Barbara on December 05, 2012 :: 12:53 pm

A few of my friends and I have been ‘friended’ by a man or 2 on FB; all have limited or new profiles and have given us the same variation on their life story—ie:
either widower (wife dying of some tragic, heartwrenching death) or divorced (cheating, evil ex-wife).
Claiming to be American, although some have obviously no knowledge of the US.
some say military; others are just working over seas somewhere.
Looking for love or companionship.
They always want your email and phone #s right away. And soon ask for your mailing address saying they want to mail you something special.
Comparing notes with my friends, most of us got the same messages verbatum! Eventually they always ask for a ‘favor’. That is when I stop corresponding with them. But a couple of my friends have even gotten emails supposedly from FB saying they had ‘won’ some huge prize.
This has happened on Fb but I have also been approached on a dating site in a very similar way.

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When I read your thread.

From Azahian Abdul Kadir on February 19, 2014 :: 11:37 am

When I read your thread. It happened to me. I befriended a guy on FB. Hardly known him, he said he would like to send gifts to me. Weird.

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Facebook Scams

From Pat Rochester on December 05, 2012 :: 2:54 pm

On Facebook even if you want to play any of the games by Zynga or anyother game maker they too ask for your permission to access your friends list and all your basic information. I never click on these apps because I don’t like the idea of my friend list being accessed. And on some of the apps it also says that some “third parties will also access and post stuff to your friends pages on your behalf.” And that’s just way too scarey for me.

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I like how you have "Login with Facebook"

From Mary on December 05, 2012 :: 3:04 pm

I like how you have “Login with Facebook” right after a article on Facebook Scams, it’s just funny? How many people used it? lol - Facebook is a bigger enemy than these small scams, they are always looking for ways to profit off our information.

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That's just a option!

From Josh Kirschner on December 05, 2012 :: 4:01 pm

You don’t HAVE to login with Facebook, it’s just an option. grin

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But it looks like you have to.......

From Barbara on December 14, 2012 :: 9:12 pm

login with Facebook!  And that will confuse a lot of people.  Or should I say ‘fool a lot of people’.

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Facebook Scams

From Pat Rochester on December 05, 2012 :: 8:59 pm

Mary,
You did not have to sign in to Facebook. This post is just an answer to your post. I did not sign into Facebook to answer you.
But your thought that it’s little scams is not true. Because they can get into your information, your friends information. And you can also get a virus.

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This is a good start...

From Walter Boomsma on December 05, 2012 :: 3:21 pm

but it’s only a start. Facebook itself is really a scam. People are thinking they have this wonderful social media site that’s all about them… Well, it is all about them but not in a way that’s positive. Every game, every ap, every click this click that is ultimately about data mining and removing any expectation of privacy. It’s perhaps sad and tragic that it’s become a necessary evil because too many people won’t communicate any other way. One can only wonder where it all ends up…

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Facebook scam

From Peggie on December 06, 2012 :: 9:52 am

I am on my phone and I have tried to remove one of facebooks thingys…even did the unsubscribe ...it didn’t work. What now? Also what is my URL?

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facebook

From soap on December 15, 2012 :: 7:12 am

facebook is just one big goverment scam. Why would anyone with half a functioning brain cell put all thier personal info, and friends, on some huge database server somewhere? And is it also not true that either the CIA or the FBI own a part of it? It’s just a very convenient way of any goverment to track you and your friends every move.

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That's a theory I haven't heard before

From Josh Kirschner on December 15, 2012 :: 12:15 pm

There have been a number of stories about government agencies using social media data for criminal investigations, both domestic and international. There’s also some concerning information that suggests the government may be collecting data about us that goes far beyond criminal investigations. So, it would be safe to assume that whatever data you post on Facebook COULD be accessed be the government at some point.

However, Facebook is a public company, and the FBI or CIA doesn’t gain any additional control by owning part of it, anymore than you or I would by buying shares of Facebook stock. Their ability to collect data will be derived from federal law, not stock shares.

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Just a thought

From Joey on December 15, 2012 :: 5:07 pm

I’m not worried about any of my information to be used. Some of my information is on purpose wrong. that way if I get called on the wrong information I know where it’s coming from. “They can get all your information” - not true

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what about the "Picture of

From Amanda on December 15, 2012 :: 8:04 pm

what about the “Picture of the Day” from 21 Questions and Best Match??? I have tried to hide, report, and block both of those because they use peoples profiles who I know would not use them and recently found out that 21 Questions had been posting things with my profile that others can see, but not me!!! I have my profile pretty secure, so how do you take care of these hacks??

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If you want to safeguard

From Pogonip on December 16, 2012 :: 1:21 am

If you want to safeguard *all* information about yourself, unplug your modem.  Better yet, put your computer back in the shipping box. 

Facebook is as safe as you allow it to be.  You can limit the information you share with the company.  What email address did you use to sign up?  If it isn’t a web-based address that you use only for such sign-ups, you don’t belong here.  What browser do you use?  Do you have a firewall?  How good is your anti-virus?  Do you use the apps and games on Facebook?  If you do, you’re agreeing to share your information.  It’s not the fault of Facebook if you *give* permission.

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Profile color changers

From Nicolas on December 16, 2012 :: 3:34 pm

Some “profile color changers” actually work. But they make you install a browser plugin on your computer, and the color change is only visible to people who have also installed the same plugin. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the plugin includes malware.

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Facebook is Linux based why would you want to be a Windows User!

From John biles on December 16, 2012 :: 7:50 pm

OK to the Windows Users who say Linux is for Geeks, not a proper Operating System etc etc thats fine I still Love you. Posts like this highlight just how lucky me and my family are for using what isn’t a proper usable Operating System. The internet, Spammers and all that Windows rubbish is all yours. If by some small miracle my Linux system got infected. A quick reinstall will fix that. No spending $$$ to fix Windows. Sometimes it good to be stupid and be a Linux User. I just wish I was as smart as you Windows users and drop Linux and return to a proper Operation System like Windows…
2 months of Pain learning the Linux way will lead you to a life time of Computer enjoyment. No longer will you live in fear of infections. I open virus filled emails, spam because I can. Never been infected by anything in 6 years…

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linux

From Bo on February 05, 2013 :: 6:01 pm

I wish some of the cad software I use would work in linux.  it is nice for browsing the web and doing the email thingy.

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Excellent post

From comocom on January 21, 2013 :: 8:55 am

Its good to know that these scams exist. Very informative and useful. Thanks for the insight!

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NO

From Ray Esposito on March 14, 2013 :: 8:34 pm

Friends often ask me why I do not have a Facebook account.  I tell them to read Techlicious.  Email is just fine.

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Just Say No

From Rocky on March 24, 2013 :: 11:33 pm

Stay away from Facebook. It requires way too much personal information. You don’t know who will eventually have access to it or whether FB will sell it to a “partner”.

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Good Stuff!

From Kevin Raposo on April 04, 2013 :: 12:30 pm

Thanks for pointing these scams out! It’s amazing how many people fall for these, especially the “who viewed your profile.”

People need to understand that there’s alot of shady things going on in the internet, not to mention Facebook, so it’s good these scams are coming into the light. Once again, thanks!

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Good stuff!

From Tufan on April 05, 2013 :: 10:59 am

Friends often ask me why I do not have a Facebook account.  I tell them to read Techlicious.  Email is just fine.

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NoMoreRack.com is Another Scam

From Franz Funk on April 07, 2013 :: 9:30 pm

Had a really bad transaction with NoMoreRack.com and posted about it on my wall. Turns out several friends have had similar experiences: broken items, wrong items, refunds promised but never delivered and so on.

Why Facebook would let them advertise on their site is beyond me.

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Very Helpful Tips to Prevent from Spam

From Pawan on April 23, 2013 :: 10:08 am

Facebook is getting too much spams these days. I remember the latest was the Justin Beiber video scam. These days I don’t use any applications or play games on Facebook as it has got all my personal information. Facebook should implement strong rules for app development.

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Avoid the fake gifts

From John Phanchalad on November 22, 2013 :: 11:53 pm

I just want to say that one of the most popular methods that are often used by scammers is by providing the fake of gifts to their victims. Everyone really interested in the gifts, but when we give our data information via scam Facebook offers, with mean to gain the gifts that they offered, quite the contrary they will use our data as the targets of their scam program, even if they added the links on the gifts page offers, actually that link was the one which it will trap you.

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Scamming during Conversations on Facebook?

From sean on June 16, 2014 :: 9:36 pm

Here’s my question. If I am having a conversation with somebody on facebook, can they use that as a cover for scamming me. That is, whilst we are talking about something mundane, can some technical wizard gather data, access your computer, etc and steal information. I don’t mean scamming you in the actual content of the conversation e.g. asking you to send them money or asking you to give your bank details, etc. I mean actually accessing your computer and seeking data on your bank details, on the net, etc whilst you are conversing with them?

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No

From Josh Kirschner on June 16, 2014 :: 11:02 pm

There’s no way to access your computer via a Facebook conversation. It’s possible that if someone routed you to a fake Facebook page or convinced you to open some file they sent you, that could be a means to download malware to your PC, which would then allow them to spy on you or control you computer. But not through a standard conversation on Facebook.

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Thank you for this reply.

From sean on June 17, 2014 :: 7:44 am

Thank you for this reply. At least I can have a facebook conversation without somebody accessing my computer.

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