Internet scammers are at it again and this time they’re using our love of celebrities to trick social media users into giving up personal information.
Facebook has admitted they were recently tricked into carrying a fake sponsored post saying Sir Paul McCartney committed suicide. The post showed up on Facebook feeds around the world, startling fans of the former Beatle. Facebook users who clicked on the post were then taken to a phishing site that said their computer was infected. A number was then given to call “Microsoft technical support,” but as you can probably guess, Microsoft says they were not on the other line. Instead, it was scammers waiting to get whatever information they could from the caller.
“We take immediate action when we discover advertisers attempting to serve misleading links to people,” Facebook said in a statement to The Mirror. “In this case, the advertiser maliciously circumvented our advertising review process. In subsequent reviews we identified the advertiser and disabled their ads and account.”
While this scam was shut down, with Facebook saying they were in fact tricked, it’s easy to see that these kind of scams on social media and across the internet are not that easy to avoid. To help, Facebook offers multiple pages with tips regarding two kinds of common scams and what to watch out for:
Phishing scams attempt to gain access to your account or record personal information about you. Aside from fake news stories, these scammers may also try to entice you with offers of free, rare, secret or exclusive digital goods (like coins, chips and gifts). If you’re doubting a post, Facebook recommends checking official Facebook pages or app pages before clicking on any type of story or promotion.
They warn users to be aware of the following:
- Messages with misspellings and typos, multiple fonts or oddly-placed accents
- Messages that claim to have your password attached. Facebook will never send you your password as an attachment
- Mismatched links: When you hover over a link, look at the status bar at the bottom of your browser window, and make sure the link actually goes to the place shown in the email.
- Messages claiming that your account will be deleted or locked unless you take immediate action
- Messages asking for your personal information. Facebook will never ask you for:
- Your account password
- Your social security number or tax identification number
- Your full credit card number or PIN
When it comes to money scams, Facebook says the most common themes are romance, lottery, donation, inheritance and loan. These involve “cyber criminals” either creating fake accounts or hacking into existing ones. To protect yourself from these types of scammers, Facebook says to be wary of the following:
- People asking you for money who you don’t know in person
- People asking you for advance fees in order to receive a loan, prize or other winnings
- People asking you to move your conversation off of Facebook (example: a separate email address)
- People claiming to be a friend or relative in an emergency
- Poor spelling and grammatical mistakes
For more information on protecting yourself on social media, click here. To report spam or a scam on Facebook, click here or send an email to [email protected] The Identity Theft Resource Center also offers tips for avoiding scams.