How To Spot A Facebook Scam - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud // Platform as a Service
04:14 PM
Connect Directly

How To Spot A Facebook Scam

Keep your Facebook account safe and secure by watching for these four common tactics used by scammers.

Facebook Home Invasion
Facebook Home Invasion
(click image for slideshow)
You've seen it before: A Facebook friend posts a link to a video that promises, "OMG! You won't believe what happened!" or an update warning you that Facebook will start charging users. You know that some posts are scams, but others seem legitimate. How do you know whether to click?

Graham Cluley, an independent security expert and former consultant at security firm Sophos, says that the rise of social networks has made it easy for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting users.

"Before social networking, you had to consciously forward an email with malicious content to members of your address book," Cluley said. "But now with Facebook, it's just too easy to pass something along. You can click a link, 'like' a post or reshare something without thinking about the consequences. Before you know it, you've contributed to the problem and worsened the signal-to-noise ratio on the social network."

[ Android user? Watch out for scam apps. Read Scam Android Apps Plague Google Play. ]

Spotting Facebook scams can be easy if you know what to look for. Here are four common characteristics found in malicious posts, plus tips for how you can ensure you don't fall prey.

1. The Content Is Salacious

If a questionable post includes a level of shock, horror or salaciousness, be wary, Cluley said. You'll often find these types of posts promising a peek into celebrity sex tape or a video of something gruesome.

This type of content can disguise a clickjacking attempt, malware or phishing scheme. Pay particular attention to the language used and whether it's enticing you to click or take immediate action, Cluely said.

One recent scam preyed on actor Emma Watson, who starred as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies. The Facebook post promises a clip of the actor in a leaked sex tape, and requests that you enter your information for "age verification," in addition to copying and pasting a script into your browser's address bar.

2. It Requires Extra Steps To View

Survey scams, which are popular on Facebook, ask you to complete a questionnaire in order to receive a prize, such as an iPad, or view a video, for example. These scammers make money by driving traffic to particular sites, Cluley says.

One recent example preyed on Costco customers. A widely circulated post read, "Claim your Free $500 Costco Voucher Now. Only a few left." Clicking on the post asked you to share the "offer," post something nice about Costco and like a Facebook page.

But Costco wasn't behind the bogus Facebook page -- scammers were, hoping to direct you to websites hosting surveys, earning them commission.

"Look at the content of the message and ask, 'What am I going to get from this?'" Cluley said. "If it asks you to install software or take a survey or reshare a message before you've seen what you expect to see, that's when an alarm bell should ring."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
1 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Susan Fourtané
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/5/2014 | 7:56:41 AM
Facebook scams trigger curiosity
Thanks, Kristin. 

Some of these things sometimes may feel they are obvious, especially if you are involved in technology. Yet, at the time of being on Facebook taking a break from whatever you are working on, which is what I do, you simply forget about your inner security alert. Well, unless you see on FB something that it's particularly annoying and, therefore, avoid it, as I mentioned before commenting on your other post.

These scams make you also think of human curiosity. Are humans so curious that they will always fall into these traps?

It's great you bring these reminders to our attention. :)

David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
7/30/2013 | 5:49:10 PM
re: How To Spot A Facebook Scam
I'm always wary of claiming I never fall for these scams, figuring that would one would come along and snag me as soon as I boasted about being immune.
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll