Social engineering—a technique used to lure you into providing personal information for fraudulent activity—has evolved beyond the phony phone call, phishing email and fake text message. Sophisticated scammers are now targeting social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Don’t be fooled by these friendly foes! Here’s how to spot the top five socially engineered scams lurking online:
CHAIN LETTER TWEETS
A socially engineered chain letter on Twitter might read, “Retweet this and Bill Gates will donate $10 million to charity!” Does it seem odd that a well-known philanthropist would need a reason to donate to charity? Yep. It’s a safe bet this is a scam! What’s the purpose? Some spammers use this technique to case potential victims for future scams. Break the cycle by breaking the chain.
CRAFTY CASH GRABS
You receive an urgent request from a Facebook friend who, “lost his wallet while on vacation and needs cash to get home.” The request includes specific instructions for delivering the cash, and may even suggest your friend could be in some kind of danger unless the money is sent quickly. Truth is, your friend’s Facebook account has been hacked by a cybercriminal hoping for a quick payout from anyone who bites. Think before you act. Contact your friend by phone to check the facts. Next, if the request is false, be sure your account hasn’t been hacked in the process, and consider changing your password.
“What kind of super hero would you be? Take a quiz to find out!” This seemingly harmless quiz in your newsfeed may be a playful ploy to get your cell phone number. That information can lead to a dubious charge for an unwanted service on your monthly cell phone bill. Skip the quiz to skip the scam.
SHOCK AND AWE
You receive an email with a shocking subject line: Saw posted pics of you at that wild party! In a panic, you follow a link within the email which takes you to what looks like your Twitter or Facebook login page. There, you enter your account credentials and unknowingly give a cybercriminal total control of your account. This phishing scam uses a fake link posing as the real deal. Don’t take the bait. Be sure your Internet security includes protection against phishing.
They’re everywhere on Twitter, but a shortened URL (Uniform Resource Locator)—aka, web address—may lead you to an unintended site that can install harmful malware. Since not all hidden or shortened URLs are dangerous, your best defense is real-time virus and spyware protection.
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