Scams on Facebook Are Personal


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I had two articles about Facebook brought to my attention in the last 24 hours.

Facebook.com eMail

First, Facebook just made its Facebook email account the default email for all its users. You’ll notice for your profile, your email shows up as yourname@facebook.com. Read this article from LifeHacker to find out how to change your eMail back to your preferred one. (Personally, I “hide” my eMail addresses and mobile phone number.)

I encourage you to change your eMail settings on Facebook today. Read the article on Cranial Soup, listed below, to help you understand the importance of taking these steps soon.  Here’s an excerpt:

You see, before the facebook.com email address was an option and you could opt out. Now it is not. Facebook gave it to you whether you wanted it or not, planned to use it or not. And they don’t allow you to choose one that differs from the name in your profile URL. And hiding the email address from your profile doesn’t delete it from existence, doesn’t stop anyone from using it to send you mail. This new unwanted email address only helps the spammers to be more effective in their spamming.

Facebook Scams

Secondly, I read the following article this morning.  Tomorrow, I’ll post some steps you can take to protect yourself from social scammers.  Read on… it’s important for you to know how compelling these phishing attacks are.

Old high school classmates aren’t the only ones making connections on Facebook. The crooks are too.

There’s the Osama bin Laden death video that downloads a virus into your computer. A sting known as the grandparent scam in which fraud artists plead desperately for money, pretending to be young relatives. And last week a new one surfaced that steals your personal information by advertising a 20 percent cash rebate for users who link debit cards to their Facebook account.

People are used to con artists pitching them via email. Who hasn’t received a sketchy alert that they’ve won an African lottery, inherited millions from a long-lost relative in Eastern Europe or had a security breach of their bank account?

But Facebook, with its network of “friends,” has a way of making people let their guard down.

“We’ve all been dealing with email spam for 10 or 15 years now, and we’ve gotten darn good at it,” said Chester Wisniewski, a senior advisor at Sophos Ltd., a provider of corporate data security systems. “But it’s a lot more convincing when you think you’re hearing from your cousin than getting something filled with spelling errors from a random stranger in Russia.”

Sophos calculates that straight email scams have dropped 30 percent over the last year or so, and Wisniewski said widespread anecdotal evidence shows social-media scams have surged.

The exact scope of the new-wave schemes is unclear because online companies don’t disclose numbers and many victims are too embarrassed to report problems to law enforcement. But there’s plenty of trouble out there: In 2011, a federal Internet crimes center logged 314,246 complaints with losses totaling $485 million, the third straight year of more than 300,000 complaints.

Some scams involved emails that appeared to be from Facebook itself, or popular games such as “FarmVille” or “Mafia Wars.” And, armed with user names and passwords, thieves will hijack Facebook accounts to target people on their friends list.

A simple scheme might use a template from a genuine Facebook email to ask millions of people to update their security questions because of unauthorized access attempts against their accounts. Then the scamsters snatch your personal information.

Still more vulnerable are the many users who accept all friend invitations, along with those having low or no security settings on their accounts.

“Even if you don’t friend someone, if you post things publicly or share lots of information with a compromised friend, your information is still available,” Wisniewski said. “If something is truly sensitive, it is best not published on the Internet.”

Schemes in which criminals pretend to be a desperate relative in need of help appear to be among the most brazen.

© Copyright  McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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