Alert
Close

Top the Treasure Hunt leaderboard by 5 p.m. Friday to win a $100 gift card! Learn more

Bits & Bytes
Poll

Most Popular
Articles

Viewed

Fight Facebook Fraud

Tips to keep your online life safe and secure

En español | Summary:

  • New scams to steal your personal info are born every day
  • Facebook apps that give you safety information updates are available
  • Being vigilant about your online activity is your best defense

 

I recently found a post from a friend in my Facebook News Feed, excitedly announcing free dinners at Olive Garden and with a convenient link to click. Something didn't smell right, though, and it wasn't the pasta primavera. My friend is a fervent foodie who wouldn't eat a free meal at Olive Garden if you paid her. Sure enough, it was a hoax designed to lure me into giving up my personal info and urge other friends to follow suit.

A woman using a notebook computer looks at a Facebook page.

Facebook users need to know what to avoid and how to keep up on the latest scams. — Peter Alvey People/Alamy

There's an absolute flood of fraud on Facebook lately, and the most distressing part is that the invitations usually seem to come from people you know and trust. Some of these scams simply lead to online surveys that pay the perpetrator for each respondent, but others can take you to pages that install viruses and malware on your computer. It's up to Facebook users to understand what to avoid and how to keep up on the latest shenanigans.

Spotting Scams

Sometimes, as with the Olive Garden example above, a fraudulent Facebook post will offer a freebie, or a chance to win a prize. Others offer surveys and polls. Soon after the Japanese tsunami tragedy, bogus opportunities to help started appearing on Facebook — clearly there's no honor among thieves. Another recent post offered to show you who's been looking at your Facebook profile, which sounds interesting and perfectly innocent — but if you actually click the link, you found instructions that make your Facebook account vulnerable to hackers if followed.

And sometimes the offers are a bit less innocent, with headlines like "The beautiful Marika Fruscio shows her breasts on Italian TV" next to an image with a clickable Play button. Click on it and you visit a site that not only tries to extract personal information but also posts the same link to your own wall, so all your friends can see what a perv you are.

News posts aren't the only Facebook feature used to sucker you. Some scams pose as event invitations, or messages apparently from Facebook friends. You may receive a fake email, apparently from Facebook, threatening to close your account if you don't follow the link provided. There are even scams that use live Facebook chat, with the person on the other end of the conversation claiming to be a personal acquaintance who's traveling, experiencing an emergency and needs you to send money immediately.

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.

Technology
Resources

Social Networking

Step-by-step instructions on how to use some of the Web's most popular networking sites. Go

 

How to Use Your PC

Guides covering everything from setting up your desktop, to getting the most out of Excel. Go

 

Protect Your Digital Life

Keep your computer secure, your web surfing safe, and your inbox spam free with these tips. Go

Discounts & Benefits

Geek Squad Computing

Members save on Geek Squad services with Geek Squad® Tech Support & Guidance for AARP® Members.

AARP Discounts on ADT Companion Services

Members get 20% off NEW installation and activation of ADT® Personal Emergency Response System.

AARP Discounts on Consumer Cellular Phones and Plans

Members save 5% on monthly service and usage charges with Consumer Cellular.

Member Benefits

Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change. Join Today

Being Social

Featured
Groups

computer questions and tips

Computer Questions & Tips

Pick up some handy how-tos from this savvy group of techies. Discuss

 

Freebies Group

Favorite Websites & Freebies

Share your top sites for interesting information, helpful resources — and free stuff! Discuss