It’s been a busy week for me, between work, home, two sick children and the upcoming summer break from school for my older children. But what made it even more busy was the need for more vigilance as my Facebook, Twitter and email accounts came under attack of phishing schemes and scams. Find out how my week went and scams you should know about if you use these social networking sites.
Here on Identitytheftsecrets.com we have talked before about the safety of social networking sites and provided some tips on using your social networking sites safely.
Is it Really MySpace ; Don’t Play Games with Your Identity , and
What You Can Get Besides a Job by Posting Your Resume On Line )
This was my week once again, to be under attack from a variety of sources, including my Facebook account.
My week starts out like many others. On Sunday I stop by Facebook to find a message from a friend. The message said simply, tinyurl(dot)com/insert combination of numbers and letters here. Knowing this friend is a busy mother of 4 children, I thought she may have simply sent a link but, being the suspicious sort (look at the site I write for how could I not be?) I opened a separate window and hand typed in the URL address shown.
Tinyurl.com is a site that many people use to shorten a long URL (internet address) into a short one. You can use them on blogs, in email, and in newsletters (or on Twitter since you only get 140 characters) to post a site address.
There are good reasons to use Tinyurl, but they also help to hide a phishing scam that much better.
The page that appears from her suggested link is a Facebook sign in page, like that which you get when you type your password in wrong. But before I decide to include my email address and password, I think, “You know the color and placement is just a little off, and why should I type in my sign in information again to access a page that I am already in?” Looking even more closely I realize that the page is just not “quite right.” Close but not exactly the same. I send a message to all the people who got this link invitation and state I suspect it to be a phishing scam and guess what, it was! The person whose account it came from later sent out a message that she didn’t send it. It was reported to Facebook, but it makes you wonder how many people got their addresses and passwords hi-jacked before it was noticed that it was a scam. I know of at least three who sent a message out saying, “I did this it didn’t work.” It’s unfortunate, and I recommended the notify Facebook and change their password immediately.
A similar instance happened a few weeks ago to my nephew’s Facebook account. Luckily being online almost all the time he noticed his phantom message and sent another out saying his account was hijacked and to ignore any messages from him.
Next I am reading a recent article about Twitter, one of the newest crazes out there for social networking. In this article Tweeters (those who use Twitter) should beware of an email harvesting scam taking place on Twitter. Apparently many people actually do post their email in a message or on their “homepage” and after doing the search myself I was easily able to harvest many email addresses. Good thing I am not a scam artist, identity theft or phishing scam.
My week rolls on, and I receive several spam messages in my private email. I am actually very disappointed that these messages got through the MSN spam filter. Up until today I thought they were doing a very good job of catching scams and hoaxes. But several spam emails in one day were able to get through the filter. One asked me to help someone in China. Another pretended to be a charity needing donations. A third was another lottery scam, a version of the Nigerian Lottery scam. Now this is my personal email address, used only for friends and family, not business or even junk mail use. But yet, somehow the address has gotten out. Report, delete, report, delete. Time wasted but at least I knew what they were.
How can you protect yourself from these scams? As one friend on Facebook told me today, “I wish I had paid more attention to your articles, you knew right away it was a scam.” She will be reading more often I am sure. Knowledge is essential, and when you next see an article in the news about these scams take a minute to learn about it. Hopefully our reporting from both personal and professional experience will keep you informed also of the latest and not so great Internet, social networking and email scams, hoaxes and phishing schemes.
Other tips: use a unique password for your social networking, email and other Internet sites, set up a fake email address for “junk mail” and be sure to exercise caution before simply clicking a link inside any message to you.