"The Web can be a scary place for social media users," cautions Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. "Most online scams try to download malicious viruses on computers to capture personal data."
BBB warns of six common social networking scams:Horrible Hackers
: Beware of messages and posts from "friends" in distress; common ploys include false arrests, accidents or travel emergencies. Their accounts may have been hacked by scammers trying to engage in money-wiring schemes. Contact the friend directly by phone to verify personal details.Fake Friends and Spineless Spammers
: Not all friend requests come from real friends. Some Facebook accounts exist solely to spy, spam or scavenge the Internet for sensitive data or opportunities to commit theft. Avoid posting contact information, travel plans or other risky details; keep in mind that online information can be copied, shared and re-distributed. Only link up with known friends or acquaintances and review account privacy settings.Catastrophic Clicks
: Clickjackers on social networks post tempting offers to entice consumers to copy-and-paste text into browser bars, leading users to inadvertently download malicious codes. Clickjackers then take control of accounts, spamming friends and perpetuating the scam. Be suspicious of any too-good-to-be-true offers, such as free coffee or pizza from well-known retailers.Terrible Tweets
: Direct messages may advertise special promotions on vanity websites or threaten that unflattering photos will be compromised. Avoid clicking links to risky third-party sites, which may try to download malware on computers.Questionable Quizzes
: Clicking on ads or links to questionnaires on outside websites can cause problems. To view results, quizzes may ask for phone numbers or email addresses. Releasing this information could cause an influx in unwanted emails, phone calls or text messages. Review privacy policies.Viral Vide
os: Videos with sensational headlines get users to visit outside websites and download malware in the disguise of video players. Upon clicking on videos, users are prompted to “upgrade" Flash players and may inadvertently install "worms," which will cause computers to log in to social networking profiles and send similar messages to friends. Never download unknown files from untrusted links.
Before using the Internet, make sure anti-virus software is installed and up-to-date. For more tips, review BBB's article: Avoid Web Schemes on Social Networking Sites