Aug 9, 2011

How to Identify and Avoid Facebook Scams

Facebook has become real spammy of late. Scam messages appear on the Facebook news feed every now and then. We have reported several scam messages spreading on Facebook. Scammers trick users by creating scam messages with titles and thumbnails that make them curious to click. The purpose of creating scams is either drive traffic to scam web sites or earn money.



Scammers go through users’ account and gather publicly available information, and send phishing emails to obtain secured information like credit card number and bank details. Sometimes, they create malware programs that are automatically downloaded on your computer which help them gain access to credentials like email id, passwords and so on.
Avoiding scams on Facebook is not an easy task. Scam messages look like every other message appearing in your news feed. Scams have the ability to draw attention due to the thumbnails and titles used in it. Here is a comparison of a real Facebook message and a scam message. (Both are video messages)
There are four major parts you need to notice in order to identify a scam.
  • Title - Make sure the title of the message is appropriate. Try to avoid scams with keywords – “showing tits“, “exposing breasts“, “dead“, “OMG!!“, “Free Facebook Credits“, “Girl stripping” and so on.
  • Link – Often scam messages also come with appropriate titles and hence it becomes difficult to identify whether it is a scam or not. When such a situation occurs, the next thing to identify is the link. You can see the difference between the links in the above image. It clearly indicates that the second message is a scam.
  • Message/Description – Scam messages usually have vague descriptions. Sometimes, it contains a message that “you need to verify your age before you can watch a video”. Facebook does not have any such step where users are asked to verify their age. If you notice such messages, then you should avoid clicking on it.
  • Play Button – The play button in a scam message is always small. Clicking on it will open a page in a new tab. However, the real Facebook message will start playing the video then and there itself.
Here are more tips on how you can identify and avoid Facebook scam messages -
  • Avoid clicking on short URLs. If you really want to see where the URL leads to, then try usinghttp://longurl.org/ to expand the URL.
  • Avoid strange messages sent to you by your friends. If you feel that the message is inappropriate, then you always have an option to ask your friends and verify it.
  • If you receive messages sent by a user who is not on your friends list, then check for any links and read tip 1.
  • Minimize the use of applications on Facebook. They’re quite useless.
  • If you are asked to grant permissions after clicking on a link, then make sure that you are granting permission to the right application. You can always revoke permissions by going to Account > Account Settings > Applications
If you were already tricked into a scam despite being careful, then worry not. Here are a few things that might help you get rid of them -
  • Check the security settings on your Facebook account. If you did not authorize apps that you are not aware of, then you should revoke permissions granted to it.
  • Security application for protecting you from Facebook scams.
  • Have a look at your own news feeds. If anything unfamiliar or come across posts that you didn’t write, then you should consider deleting/removing them from your feed immediately.

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