If we’re honest, most of us will admit to being curious about big, tragic events like the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
When something like that happens, you can count on scammers to come out of the woodwork. The promise of exclusive video that hasn’t turned up in the news is just too tempting.
If you’re scrolling through your social media feed and see a teaser promising “Video of Malaysia MH370 Plane Found in Bermuda Triangle Passengers alive,” or “[NEWS FLASH] Missing Plane Has Been Found!” resist the temptation to click.
If you click the link you are taken to an unfamiliar, third party website. A popup may appear, prompting you to “update your video player.” When you click “OK,” you aren’t getting a new software version, you are downloading malware.
Like all scams, this has many variations. Another common version asks you to take a survey before viewing the video. Filling in your personal information opens you up to identity theft. Or your information could be sold to spammers.
This scam is also not limited to Facebook. Watch out for similar links posted on Twitter, and other social media or sent by email.
Here are some steps to protect yourself and others from shared scam links:
Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” footage. If it sounds too outlandish to be true, it is probably a scam.
Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, hover over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.
Don’t trust your friends’ taste online. It might not actually be them “liking” or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked. But it may also be “clickjacking,” a technique scammers use to trick you into clicking something that you wouldn’t otherwise.
Report scam posts. On Facebook, report scam posts and other suspicious activity by following these instructions. On Twitter, if another user is sending you links to malware or other spam, report it to Twitter by following these instructions.