Phishing is a term coined by computer hackers who use email to “fish” the Internet hoping to “hook” you into giving them your logins, passwords and credit card information.
Scammers are tapping into personal data available through Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn to pose as your friends in fraudulent emails. Watch out for these personalized scam messages and take steps to prevent them.
Here’s how the scam works: You receive an email that appears to have been sent by a friend or family member. The message addresses you by name but the content is strange. Usually it’s just a link to a website. If you click on the link, you could end up downloading malware to your computer.
What’s going on here? The scammers are exploiting the fact that you are more likely to click on a link sent by a friend.
Some scammers set up fake accounts and send out friend requests. When you accept the request, the scammers can see your friends, along with your personal and contact information.
Other scammers rely on social media users not to lock down their privacy settings, which allows public visibility of basic information such as your name, email address and friends’ names.
How to protect your Facebook account
» Review your security settings. Prevent sharing personal information with strangers by configuring your privacy settings. Find out what can be found publicly in search engines at facebook.com/help.
» Don’t accept Facebook friend requests from people you don’t know.
» Report scam profiles and other suspicious activity to Facebook.
» Consider enabling login notifications, so you will know when someone uses a new device to access your account.
» When accessing Facebook from public Wi-Fi in places such as hotels and airports, text “opt” to 32665 to receive a one-time password to your account.
» Visit Facebook’s privacy section for more information about protecting your account.
If you receive a suspicious email
» Don’t click on strange links, even if they are from friends. Notify the person who sent you the email if you see something suspicious.
» Check the “header” field. Though a friend’s name might be in the “from” field, spam email won’t be from his or her email address.
» If you click the link, be sure to run a virus scan on your computer.