BBB Warns Of Facebook Scams

    January 21, 2009

The Better Business Bureau is warning users of social networking sites about a number of common scams that hackers are using to gain access to personal information.

BBB Warns Of Facebook Scams

One scam on Facebook is the "friends in distress" ploy. Facebook users receive a message in their inbox from a friend saying they are in trouble and need money wired to them. The recipient of the message does not know that their friend’s account has been hacked and the message was sent by scammers. If the Facebook users do wire the money to the scammers, they have no way to recover it.

"Social networking is extremely popular because it allows us to connect and reconnect with people we know and trust," said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson.

"Scammers know that they can take advantage of that trust by masquerading as friends, families, and coworkers in order to easily disseminate viruses or steal personal information such as bank or credit card numbers."

Another Facebook scam claims that users pictures are public. The user receives a post on their wall from a friend saying something like, "hey do u realize your Facebook picture is all over <link to Web site>". The wall posts vary, but all of them link to an outside Web site that supposedly has the user’s photos.

BBB Warns Of Facebook Scams

Facebook warns that clicking on the link will allow hackers to gain access to the user’s account and post the same message on their friend’s walls.

BBB offers the following advice for staying safe on social networking sites:

  •  Be extremely wary of messages from friends or strangers that direct the user to another Web site via a hyperlink.
  •  Before wiring money to a friend in a jam, users should attempt to contact their friend outside of the social networking site, such as over the phone or via e-mail to confirm the situation. If that’s not possible, BBB recommends asking them a question that only they would know the answer to.
  •  Users should always make sure their computer’s operating system and antivirus and firewall software are up to date.
  •  Social networking sites are about sharing information, but BBB recommends that users take steps to keep important information private. While some social networking Web sites do allow for the user to share phone numbers and addresses, it’s best to keep such information private.
  •  Be selective when choosing friends. While a user might not want to be rude, BBB recommends that it’s best to decline a request for friendship if the user doesn’t actually know the person.