Facebook has more than 1.3 billion users, which makes it a hacker’s paradise for posting scams. Even if only 1% of users fall for the scam at first, that’s still 13 million people. And once they fall for the scam, it’s more likely some of their friends will as well, and then those friends’ friends and so on.
Some Facebook scams are harmless; they’re more like hoaxes that just make you look silly. Two popular hoaxes that never seem to die are the news that Facebook will start charging (gasp!) and that useless “legal” notice people post to keep Facebook from “stealing” their information. Unfortunately, some other scams can actually cause serious problems.
The scams I’m talking about today can install apps and programs that steal your information, or trick you into giving it up yourself. You’ve probably seen these in your News Feed and wondered whether to click on them. Now you’ll know.
So, without further ado, here are five scams that you’ll see on Facebook, and some other social media sites, that are scams. Be sure to share this Tip with friends and family too, so they don’t fall for any of these scams either.
1. FREE GIVEAWAYS
The easiest scam to fall for on Facebook is a free giveaway. You’ll see everything from gift cards to free tablets, laptops and smartphones. Right now, there are scams that say you can win the new iPhone 6 Plus. You might also see scams for iPads, or the Xbox One or PlayStation 4. To get the gadget, you just need to fill out your information or take a survey.
This is a variation on a survey scam that might show up in your email. It either tricks you into giving hackers your personal information or it has you download a malicious file. Entering your cellphone number on a scam survey leads to bogus premium charges appearing on your wireless bill. It’s just better to avoid these surveys entirely. It’s very rare for a company to give away something through Facebook. When it does, it’s usually promoted on that company’s Facebook page or website. If you check their page or site and don’t see a giveaway, steer clear.
2. VIRAL VIDEOS
Almost as exciting as winning the latest gadget is seeing the latest viral video, especially if it’s shocking, scandalous or racy. However, many supposedly salacious celebrity “videos” posted on Facebook aren’t videos at all. When you click, they’ll ask you to update your video player before you can watch. When you do, you’ll download and install a virus. It also shares the scam automatically with your friends so the virus spreads.
This scam is easy enough to avoid. Type the video’s title into a Google search and it should bring up a link to the video on YouTube. If it isn’t on YouTube or a legitimate news site, it’s probably a scam. Also, as a firm rule, if you click any link on Facebook and it asks you to download something, it’s a scam. Always choose “No.”
Don’t risk a scam; watch the latest and greatest handpicked viral videos safely on my site or my Facebook page.
3. CUSTOM PROFILES
Another common scam offers to change your Facebook layout or color. The colors that the scam offers change, but the basics are the same. This scam tries to con you into installing a Facebook app. If you do, you give the scammer access to your personal data and license to spam and scam your friends.
Keep in mind there is no official way to change your Facebook layout. Social Fixer can change the way you see your profile, but nothing will change the way other people see it. You can, however, add your own touch with a custom cover photo. I’ve got free ones in my store that I made just for you.
4. WHO VIEWED YOUR PROFILE?
Speaking of people seeing your profile, did you know there’s a way to see who visits your profile? OK, I’m kidding. But if you believed me for even a fraction of a second, we need to have a serious talk, because more than 30% of the scam links on Facebook use this tactic.
This old gem has been around almost as long as Facebook itself. Facebook has made it clear several times: There is no way for any app to show you who visits your profile. Any link or download that says differently is either a prank or a virus. Never, ever, ever believe it! The same goes for seeing who deleted you.
5. NIGERIAN SCAM
The 419 “Nigerian” scam isn’t just something you get through mail or email. While it’s rare on Facebook, it does happen, as one Austrian man found out after he lost $38,000 to a fake Prince Harry.
As a rule, most celebrities aren’t going to friend you on Facebook. And if they do, they aren’t going to give you golden money-making opportunities that involve you sending them money first.