Usually a phishing scam comes in the form of an email from some important institution like a bank with alarming information, like “your account is being closed” and a link that takes you to a fraudulent website that looks a lot like the real thing.
Enter your information and the scammers can get into your account and steal your money.
Lately, phishing has also come to social media outlets like Facebook. If scammers manage to steal your social media account, they can cause all kinds of havoc with your friends and family. If friends and followers see a link in their feed from someone they think is you, they are more likely to click and get caught up in whatever scheme the bad guys have cooked up.
According to StaySafeOnline.org, scammers may use these methods to compromise your cyber security on social networks:
- Phishing links. Clicking these may hand over your account to a hacker. It is more effective to use real hijacked accounts than to create fake online account. If a phishing link comes from a social network friend, you are more likely to click on the fake site rather than from an unknown person.
- Hijacked accounts. Cybercriminals sell hijacked accounts to other cybercriminals who use them to spread spam, phishing links or malware. Hijackers most often make money by selling stolen data.
- Malware. These are downloads or attachments that put viral content on your computer. Just like with phishing links, social network users more readily download and open files coming from their friends.
- Spam. Scammers may send spam to the victim’s contact list and publish spam on social media sites where it can be seen and clicked by other users.
- Fraud. Scammers will use phishing to commit fraud. They may use a hijacked account to extort money from online connections through email messages.
To avoid phishing scams, Your BBB suggests the following tips:
- Never give out personal information. Don’t reply to an email that is asking you to reply with personal information such as passwords or Social Security numbers. Even if the email or link appears to be from a trusted source, this may be a phishing attack.
- Beware of suspicious links. Do not click on any links from anyone that you are unfamiliar with. These files can contain viruses or other malware that can weaken your computer’s security. If you really want to check out a link sent to you or posted by a friend, research the company or individual first to confirm they are trustworthy at bbb.org.
- Always verify a website’s security before sharing information. Whenever you are providing sensitive information such as credit cards or bank information, the address bar should shows “https” which indicates that the web page is secure.