We’ve all seen a lot of emotional Facebook posts and photographs, and it’s practically second nature for many people to “like” just about anything, whether to recognize that they saw it or simply because they’re used to it.
But, before you “like” just any message on Facebook, you should be aware of how scammers take advantage of this involuntary urge to click.
Unfortunately, while some of these posts about people in need of non-life insurance are genuine, the majority of them are part of a scam known as “like farming,” in which criminals use Facebook to trick unsuspecting users into handing over personal information or falling victim to another type of scam.
Scammers utilize eye-catching images and stories to lure users to like, comment and spread their content. And as more people interact with the message, it will continue to appear on users’ news feeds, giving the scammers more visibility.
You may be unsure if the tale is true, but given that thousands of other people have commented or liked it, what harm can it do if you merely like the post or page to learn more about it?
How does the scam work?
Scammers usually post anything that looks to be completely innocent in the eye of the reader. They create fake Facebook pages that appear to be completely harmless. The topic of the post or page is about general insurance providers, but there will always be something that catches your eye.
For example, you may be going through your news feed and come across a photograph of a grateful client who describes how pleased he is with his insurance purchase. The article has thousands of shares, likes, and comments, and it frequently asks for donations.
The posts may ask for assistance in a variety of ways. Some instances are as follows:
- “Towards every ‘like,’ a dollar is raised for Emily’s treatment.”
- Mark Zuckerberg will donate $5 to a children’s hospital if you share this photograph.
- “Don’t scroll down unless you type Amen.”
The criminals will then gather information from anyone who interacts with the post or bogus page in order to perpetuate a scam.
Fake offers on the Facebook Platform
Even if the post does not request any information or a donation, even a simple like, it could come back to haunt you. Scammers will frequently go back into a post like this once it has gained enough popularity, such as a specific number of likes, shares, and/or comments, and change it to include something too good to be true offers.
Scammers may email consumers directly, demanding additional information about the phony news or donation plea, or sell the user’s personal and contact information to other criminals.
Scammers do the same thing with bogus Facebook sites. Perhaps you liked some strange insurance page that a lot of people were suddenly interested in, and then scammers used the page to send out spam and scam posts, which could include phishing scams, malware downloads, or bogus notifications that you’ve won a reward. Because you liked the page, you’ll see all of the scammers’ postings in your news feed.
Scams in various forms
The idea is to capture your attention and entice you to take action – whether it’s liking, sharing, or commenting on the post in exchange for something in return. Scammers use a variety of techniques to entice you to participate, including:
- Emotional posts requesting assistance for a child or someone in need.
- If you share the post, you could win a cash award or something cool like a new smartphone which is not true.
- Coupons, free airline tickets, and anything else that seems too good to be true
- Other passionate messages to demonstrate your support or opposition to a particular cause
Essentially, the scammers prey on people’s emotional vulnerabilities to persuade them to act without even thinking about it, whether it’s through the use of a phony frightening image of a sick child or by promising you something in return.
How to Avoid Being Scammed on Facebook
Regardless of how big or tiny the freebie is, if a post claims you’ll get something for free in exchange for liking, clicking, sharing, etc., it’s most certainly a fraud!
When it comes to committing any form of scam on Facebook, criminals have a few basic goals:
- Malware: If you click a link in one of these scam articles, you may be routed to a website that automatically uploads malware or viruses to your device, allowing crooks to track your every move without your knowledge. So, when you go to log in to your bank account or another account that holds your personal information, they may track you down, grab your credentials, and wreak havoc with your finances!
- Phishing: Phishing is a method for thieves to obtain your personal information, such as passwords, banking information, Social Security numbers, and other sensitive information, by utilizing bogus websites, emails, and robocalls. When you click on a link in a phony offer, you may be asked to ‘redeem the offer’ by entering your Facebook credentials. That’s a huge red sign that it’s a rip-off!
The following are red signals that an offer or company on Facebook is bogus:
- There are no negative reviews or comments on the Facebook page.
- If you can’t discover the company’s phone number or address not until you have verified it already.
What should you do if you receive an alert or other message that you suspect is a scam:
- Remove malware from your computer. Scan your machine with authorized security software that has been updated or downloaded. Delete everything that it flags as a potential issue in the near future. A list of free antivirus and malware protection programs is provided below.
- Change any passwords you’ve shared. If you use these passwords for other accounts, you should change them as well.
- If you used your credit card to pay for bogus services, contact your credit card company and request that the charges be reversed. Check your statements for any other charges you didn’t authorize and request that they be reversed as well.
- Visit the CIDG identity theft page if you feel someone has obtained your personal or financial information. You can reduce the chance of further damage and address any existing issues.
- Complaint to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
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