Facebook has been a boon to older people who wish to stay in touch with relatives and friends both near and far.
But, according to a recent article in the AARP Bulletin, scams in which criminals attempt to steal personal information are on the rise in social media.
“ ‘Phishing’ scams, in which criminals try to collect your credit card numbers, log-in credentials and other information in order to steal your identity, have more than doubled in the past year, reports social media security company Proofpoint,” author Sid Kirchheimer.
He warned of five specific types of attempted fraud related to social media:
- Twitter tricks
“With keystroke tweaks, such as adding an extra character to a corporate name, cybercrooks create fake social media accounts to pose as customer-care reps. The phishing mission: to intercept messages sent to legitimate companies. You tweet a question to a bank’s customer service Twitter account, for example, and a scammer—who is monitoring these tweets—responds from a Twitter account with a slightly different name. The crook then provides a link to a fake website that requests your login code and account number.
“The customer not only expects the response, he or she welcomes it, and has incentive to follow the link,” Devin Redmond, vice president of social media security and compliance at Proofpoint, was quoted as saying.
- Live-stream lies
Taking a cue from media companies that stream their TV shows and movies online, crooks offer their own programming. Typically, they promise free viewing of a big game, hot concert or other popular event. The phishing mission: With tempting comments on social media pages, scammers post links promising free access to a live stream. Click and you’ll land on a website that demands credit card and personal details before any stream is provided, often under the guise of a free trial that can be canceled any time.
- Fake freebies and discounts
Scammers set up bogus social media pages that look like those of legit companies, and claim to offer free or dirt-cheap products and services. The phishing mission: to collect your name, address, phone numbers, email address and other information to be used for identity theft or sold to other crooks on the black market.
- Contest cons and survey swindles
In these schemes, crooks promise a prize for completing an online survey. The phishing mission: Getting you to fill out a survey lets the bad guys mine deeper for your personal information.
- Gossip gotchas
Celebrity names, coupled with terms such as “video” and “picture,” have long been among the internet’s most-typed search terms, and most dangerous. The phishing mission: Your curiosity about Hollywood’s elite, sports superstars and other household names is used to tease you into clicking on links promising scandalous video and reports about these folks, for which you provide your credit card info.