Facebook accounts are preferred targets of hackers and scammers these days, and it’s easy to see why.
With approximately a billion users worldwide, the Facebook community at large offers hackers an enormous opportunity for scamming their way to ill-gotten gains and/or the twisted satisfaction that some receive from wreaking havoc on a massive scale.
It’s easy to fall victim to miscreants on Facebook, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself. Most of them are just plain common sense:
First secure your account on a technical level by following the simple instructions in this post.
Next, never respond to a post on your wall or in your news feed asking you to click a link to “verify your credentials” or “provide your login information”. Facebook will never ask for such information in a public post.
And once you’re logged in to your account they’ll never ask you to verify your password. Why would they? You’re already logged in so you obviously know it, and if you can’t get logged in because you forgot it there is a simple to follow, yet secure method of resetting it.
The second thing to remember is that apps and games aren’t always your friend. Facebook is home to thousands of useful and legitimate apps and games that people use day in and day out, but this expansive catalog makes it easy for hackers and general miscreants to trick users into adding and using apps that are nothing more than fronts for scams.
If someone suggests that you try out an app you’ve never heard of, message them before you add it and ask them if they really use that app and if they really sent the suggestion. Just because it appears that something was sent to you from a friend doesn’t mean it really was.
Next, always be suspicious of emails that appear to have been sent to you from Facebook. Never, ever click a link to Facebook that comes your way via an email. Instead, log in to Facebook in the usual way (by typing the URL into your browser manually or clicking a bookmark link), then look at your notifications to see if the event mentioned in the email really took place. It’s always wise to remember that email is one of the most insecure methods there is for communicating online!
Beware of clicking unfamiliar external links that show up in your news feed or on your wall, even if they appear to have been sent from a trusted friend. Once a hacker breaks into an account he/she can pose as that user, and it might be days or weeks before the fraudster is found out, if ever.
Be aware of what your friends are sending out. If you see a post from a “friend” that you feel is way out of character for them, chances are they didn’t really send it. Send a private message and ask if it indeed came from them, and recommend that they change their password immediately if it didn’t.
Also, keep tabs on your own Timeline. The vast majority of items that show up on there were initiated by you. If you see something on your Timeline that doesn’t look right, message the person who apparently sent it and then delete it.
And finally, be careful about accepting friend requests from people you don’t know. While there are legitimate reasons for accepting friend requests from strangers on occasion (common interests, people from back home, etc.), those requests should always be given an extra amount of scrutiny before being accepted. Here are a few things to look out for:
1 – How old is the account? If it was created within the last week or less, I recommend ignoring the friend request unless it came from someone you know personally.
2 – What do the photos in the galleries look like? Do they appear to be photos that would be taken in the normal course of life or were they possibly “lifted” from some other place on the Internet such as a stock image site? Be especially wary if the photos tend to be revealing pics of a member of the opposite sex.
3 – What kind of posts are on the Timeline? Are they the normal types of posts you are used to seeing from your friends or are they spammy in nature? If they appear spammy, odds are that entire Facebook profile is a scam.
I hope this helps you stay safe as you go about your business (or pleasure) on Facebook. Good luck and have fun!
Bonus tip: Click here to learn about some of the scams that are making the rounds on Facebook.
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