Facebook scams? Use common sense to stay safe.

Identity theft has found a new platform. A recent article about facebook on CNN.com discussed the proliferation of scammers on facebook. While identity theft, and scams in general, are not new to Facebook, the recent spike in incidents is concerning. I am sure a big portion of this can be attributed to the popularity of the system. Adding 600,000 new users daily can make you a big target. Although the only recommendations for staying safe were; “First, make sure your computer anti-virus programs are up to date; and tell online companies you want better privacy protection,” given by Jim Lewis, director of the technology and policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. There are other methods. Stay Safe on Facebook:

  1. Be careful what you post – Facebook is a public platform, don’t post things that you would not want seen in public. Although there are networks and you can limit access, If you have 200 friends, you can’t manually monitor each one
  2. Change your password once in a while – the same suggestions that apply to any of your online accounts apply to facebook
  3. Use a strong password – since Facebook is so personal in the information it has about you (that is the whole concept), don’t use your spouse or pets name as a password. Since you probably have that information readily available in your own profile.
  4. Consider everything you do on Facebook to exist forever – while we never know what will happen to an online application, it is not unreasonable to think that anything uploaded into “the cloud” will be in existence for eternity. Think about this before posting photos or making comments….. FOREVER is a long time.
  5. Be careful what you post – Smart con-artists and scammers and put disconnected pieces of your life together from the seemingly harmless bits of data that you post. Photos and comments can give details of where you live, shop, eat, go to school, etc…
  6. Use common sense – If it doesn’t sound right, verify before taking action. Never send money from a request online, unless verified. This should not need stating but unfortunately it does.

Facebook creates a comfort layer because it involves your real friends on an intimate level. But remember that you never really know who is at the computer at any given time. Maybe your friend left their account logged in and open on their home computer and their child or spouse is now posting on your wall. It is too easy to hide online.

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Published On: Feb 6, 2009