11 Facebook Scams You Need to Know

Beware of Social Media Scams

Black man using laptop
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If you have a Facebook account, then you're also at risk of being scammed. These activities aren't just prevalent on Facebook—you can run into scams all over the internet, including on other social networks. You should always approach something that doesn't look right with caution. Be on the lookout for duplicate or stolen accounts, viral videos, requests for money, contests, coupons, and promises of love. Taking the time to understand what might be a Facebook scam can help you keep your personal information safe while enjoying the social network.

Top Facebook Scams

Over the years, that have been several scams pop up on Facebook and other social networks. If you're not already familiar with them, learn what they are so you can protect yourself.

Duplicating Accounts

One way that scammers trick Facebook users is by imitating the email template from Facebook, which makes it look like you have an official message. Once you click through the email to Facebook and enter login information, the phishers can duplicate your account, hold it for ransom, or begin asking your friends for money or information.

Viral Videos

Viral videos are very popular on social media pages, especially if they are funny, shocking, or scandalous. However, since they are irresistible to many, they're also the perfect bait for scammers. When you click on one of these videos that's part of a scam, you may be asked to update your video player, and, when you do, it downloads and installs a virus onto your system. It also shares the same scam with your friends, who believe the message they receive is safe since it looks like you shared it.

Identity Theft

Facebook accounts can be used to crack other passwords. If your account is duplicated, your information can be used to determine the answers to knowledge-based authentication questions that verify the identity of the account owner.

Multi-factor authentication is a good idea to use on all of your accounts.

Money Scams

After duplicating your friend's account, scammers could use the account to get you to pay them with the promise of returning much more. Your "friend" may tell you that they paid an amount and received a huge return, and recommend you do it too.

Burglary

Criminals also use Facebook to determine if a potential victim is at home or not. Publicly sharing information about vacations and other times when you're away from your home is exactly what burglars are looking for.

Be mindful of who can see your location on social networks. You can always update your privacy settings to ensure only those you trust see what you're really up to.

Free Coupons

You have probably seen this many times. You are promised free coupons at large retailers worth more than usual, or coupons for a free vacation. All you need to do is use your Facebook login on a site, and you'll get a free vacation—or your social media identity will belong to someone else without the vacation.

Geo-Stalking

Through geo-stalking, a criminal can use the GPS technology of social media to stalk and find a target. You should turn off your social media location settings and update your privacy settings to help protect against geo-stalking.

Video Message Scams

This is a scam that has been around for some time. It will usually include a link to a video with a description from a "friend" and a question such as "Is this you? LOL." The link is normally a virus or browser hijacker.

Profile Views and Unfriended Scams

Any time you see a notification or message about who has viewed your profile or someone who unfriended you, it's probably a scam. Facebook does not advertise these types of activities as of September 2020. If you come across this, Facebook asks that you report it in the app.

Contest Scams

Contests, prizes, and lotteries are another common scam, and it could be as simple as setting up a fake page on Facebook, marketing it, and collecting information from everyone that joins.

Love Scams

The good-looking deployed serviceman/woman or an alluring lonely foreigner hoping to get to America are common themes used to find unwitting targets. Many people feel alone and become entwined in a social media affair where the person eventually asks for money to get "back to the U.S." or travel there with promises of seeing their "loved one." Once the money is transferred, the distant lover disappears.

How to Protect Yourself From Facebook Scams

The concepts behind defeating these scams are fairly simple in theory. Don't click on unknown links and remember that nothing is ever free. There probably isn't a gorgeous international prince or princess interested in you out of the blue (unfortunately). No businesses or friends are going to offer you lots of money, and there are no methods of making quick fortunes.

Key Takeaways

  • Be wary of what you click on social media networks.
  • Update your privacy settings to ensure only your trustworthy friends and family can see what you share and where you're located on Facebook.
  • If you suspect a scam, report it and any other suspicious activity to the social media network and law enforcement.

Article Sources

  1. Facebook. "What Can I Do if I've Been Phished on Facebook?" Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  2. Better Business Bureau. "Scammers Use Facebook Tags to Spread Malware." Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  3. Cyber Florida. "Facebook Cloning: A New Kind of Cyberattack." Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  4. Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "Facebook Coupon Scam." Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  5. Better Business Bureau. "BBB Warns of Social Media Video Scam: 'Is This You?'" Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  6. Facebook. "Can I Tell Who's Looking at My Facebook Profile?" Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  7. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch. "Unexpected Prize & Lottery Scams." Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.