Posted: Robert Siciliano | December 24, 2015


How to Protect Yourself from Social Networking Scams

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How do you fall under the spell of someone whose eyes you've never seen, whose voice you've never heard, whose warm hand has never touched your face? Well, just ask the thousands of people who've fallen for social networking scams.

Social networks include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and dating sites among others.

Maybe it's because there's no in-person contact that scammers are able to so easily hook their victims.

How do scammers operate?

  • Phony profiles and fake websites
  • Impersonating people the victim knows
  • Pretending to share the victim's interests
  • Once he has enough personal information, he commits identity theft.
  • The crook gets acquainted with the posting style of the selected victim by following the victim's Facebook, then crafts e-mails in that person's name and sends them to their family claiming they were burglarized-and "Can ya'll help me out here?"
  • The victim meets Prince Charming on a dating site, and arrangements are made for him to fly out to meet her. But he needs money for airfare, or pirates robbed him, and she wires money to him. Of course, the meeting never takes place because something always "comes up."
  • E-mails informing you that you must reset a password to your account to prevent it from being hacked-just click on the (malicious) link below to do it.
  • E-mails claiming you won a prize, a lottery, sweepstakes or inherited money.
  • Contact by the scammer posing as a government official, scaring the victim into revealing personal information.

There are many more ways that scammers con their victims, but there are also common denominators in these scams:

  • People, including those claiming to be someone you know, asking you to wire them money.
  • "Friend" requests from strangers, including those claiming they know someone you know.
  • E-mails with sensationalistic or threatening subject lines.
  • Videos to something unbelievable (e.g., Khloe K. puking during a bulimic episode) that make you very tempted to click (which can download a virus).

Don't Be a Victim!

  • Never click links inside e-mails.
  • Never open e-mails with threatening or "You've Won!" type of subject lines.
  • Before posting any information online, ask yourself if a cyber creep could get to you through that information.
  • Make sure every single account has a different password-and a long strong one.
  • Go to the privacy settings of every account and set to the highest privacy level, and switch off the GPS feature.
  • When finished with using an account's site, log off.
  • Ignore friend requests from strangers; really, will your life be any better if you have 203 friends rather than 202?

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention.


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