If you're like me, you're online constantly. But, as safe as the internet may seem at times, every day it becomes more frightening. Scammers have amped up their game in this past year alone. In fact, things are getting so bad the FBI and other government officials, such as the FTC, have issued several warnings this year about weak encryption, ransomware and phishing scams.
Of all the scams we've seen this year, there's a handful that truly stand out. These aren't your run-of-the-mill scams that fool a few hundred people. These scams have been so effective, they've fooled hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. And, the worst part is, they're still out there wreaking havoc. That's why we've rounded up the top five scams you need to look out for.
1. Facebook fake 'friend' requests
You probably get friend requests on Facebook all of the time. Normally you wouldn't think twice about accepting a request from a familiar face or longtime friend. But you should ask yourself: “Am I already friends with them?” If the answer is yes, the request is likely a scam by someone up to no good.
The tactic works like this: A criminal re-creates a random person's existing Facebook profile using that person’s profile picture and “About” information. The criminal then uses the phony new profile to send friend requests to the real person’s Facebook friends.
If you accept, you’ve just given this stranger access to the many personal details on your profile: status updates, location, date of birth and photos. Those simple details, in the hands of today’s cyber criminals, can be used to steal your full identity and wreak havoc with your entire life. Posing as you, the scammer can also message your friends asking for money or trying to meet up in person.
What to do: If you get a friend request from an existing friend, verify that it's real. And of course, be very wary of friend requests from people you don’t know.
Your best way to stay protected is to tighten your security settings. Click here for a complete guide on how to lock down your Facebook account for maximum privacy and security.