Trick or Treat? Spot the scary social media scams

Better Business Bureau warns networkers to protect themselves online.

With more than 16 million users in Canada, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are unquestionably popular, but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that users may be the target of social media scammers.

“Many people view their online personas as separate from their real-life ones, and don’t take the same precautions to protect their identities, their computers, or their money,” says Lynda Pasacreta, BBB president and CEO. “Scam artists are savvy to consumers who click first and ask questions later.”

BBB warns social media users to be on the lookout for these five common social networking scams:

Fake Friends

Not all friend requests come from real friends – or real people for that matter. Some Facebook accounts exist solely to cast a wide net for spamming or extracting personal data from users. Only accept friend requests from people you know.

Questionable Quizzes

Clicking on an ad or a link that takes you to a questionnaire on a website outside Facebook can lead to unwanted results. In many cases, the quiz may ask you to enter your cellphone number before you can view your results. If the scammers get your number, you could find yourself subscribed to unwanted and expensive text messaging services.

Terrible Tweets

Direct messages may appeal to your vanity with a message that suggests you can be seen in a compromising or flattering way at a certain website. The link to the website actually prompts you to unwittingly download malware to your computer.

Grim Gifts

Clickjackers on Facebook entice you to copy-and-paste text into your browser bar by posting tempting offers, leading users to inadvertently download malicious code. Clickjackers then take control of your account, spamming your friends and further spreading their scam. Be suspicious of any too-good-to-be-true offers, such as free coffee or pizza from well known retailers.

Viral Videos

Videos with sensational headlines get users to visit an outside website and download malware in the disguise of a video player. If you click on the video, you will be prompted to “upgrade your Flash player now” and will then be asked to download a file which contains a ‘worm’. If you download and install the file, your computer will automatically log in to Facebook and send similar messages to your friends. Never download a file after clicking on a link.

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