Alert
Close

Join the Drive to End Hunger! Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

Highlights

Close

You and Your Town Contest-You could win an AARP RealPad

AARP Auto Buying Program

Contests and
Sweeps

$10,000 Games Galore Sweepstakes

Sept. 3, 2014 - Oct. 14, 2014
Play AARP Games for a chance to win $10,000!
See official rules. 

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular
articles

Viewed

Nothing has been viewed

Scam Alert

Protect Yourself From Facebook Scams

Cybercrooks use the popular 'like' button against you

Each day, Facebook users click the “Like” button about 3.2 billion times.  And cybercrooks love that. Increasingly, they’re using the upward thumb as bait in some of the most common scams on the huge social network.

These include postings by false friends who seek money by claiming they’re stranded overseas, bogus account verification notices and cancellation warnings supposedly coming from Facebook (just like phony notices from your bank).

“There are two goals in most social media scams: to spread quickly and to make money,” says Gerry Egan of Norton online security products, who recently conducted a study of Facebook scams. With those billions of clicks per day, Like buttons help achieve that prompt and widespread propagation, particularly as Facebook users get wise to traditional social media scams.

In reviewing the current top Facebook scams, Norton experts detected 8.5 million attacks against customers using its software in the year that ended May 1. The two most common ploys employed Like button leverage. Here’s how:

Clickjacking. It’s like hijacking, only it’s a click of the Like button that the bad guys seize control of.

In one common version, you’re offered a chance to watch an enticing video. Click on the “Play” button and you’re really clicking on an invisible “Like” button that’s hidden behind it. You may now be taken to a page that announces you have to disclose personal information before you can watch the video. Provide it and still there’s no video — you’re taken instead to other pages to complete online surveys or be pitched dubious products.

Protect yourself from scams on Facebook - Facebook Like Button on an iPhone4

Each day, Facebook users click the "Like" button about 3.2 billion times. — Photo by Ted Soqui/Corbis

Meanwhile, your Like is registered on your Facebook page, so your friends think you’ve watched the video and thought it was good. When they click “play” to try to check it out, the same sequence of events happens to them.

The scammer, meanwhile, is collecting a commission from shady merchants for every “Like” referral that’s generated.

So the two-part goal is achieved: Spread quickly and make money.

Meanwhile, the offer of cool videos is also a common method of spreading “malware,” programs that do nasty things once they enter your computer. You’ll know you’ve been targeted this way if a pop-up appears saying you need to install special software to watch a video, says Egan. Don’t do it.

"Like"-baiting. Unlike clickjacking, this ruse gets you to knowingly click a "Like" button. The goal is the same: squeezing personal information out of you to create commissions for scammers. But rather than a phony video, the incentive is usually free tickets or an entry into a drawing, says Egan. “Instead of stealing your click, they get you to provide it voluntarily by promising free gifts.” And of course the gifts don’t materialize.

To protect yourself against these and other Facebook scams: 

  • Be cautious about hitting that Like button, as well as placing too much personal information on your Facebook page. If you post pictures about a recent ski trip, for instance, you may be contacted by cybercrooks offering free lift tickets as part of a “Like”-baiting ploy.
  • Don’t trust Likes by others. “Especially when you get a notification from a friend that seems out-of-character, call that person before you click,” suggests Egan.
  • Use Facebook-specific settings on your security software. You may not know it, but many products offer protection customized to viruses and malware found on the social network site.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Life insurance: you are covered rain or shine

Exclusive annuities for members from AARP Lifetime Income Program from New York Life.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Homeowners Insurance
Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points