A scammer’s paradise
MANY OF US spend a great deal of time reconnecting with old friends, exchanging photos and
videos, and doing business on social networking
sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
Cyber-crooks have also turned their attention to
the big social sites because they’re rife with potential
victims—Facebook alone has more than 750 million
members—and the threats are new enough that
many people haven’t given much thought to how to
Protecting yourself against social networking
scams entails being aware of what they look like and
properly securing your personal information when
you are connected to the Web. Here are some of the
most common social networking scams.
monthly fee, typically around $50. It is then up to you
to stop the charges, and it may be too late.
Beware of blindly clicking on shortened URLs.
You see them everywhere on Twitter, but you never
know where they will take you since they hide the full
location. Clicking on such a link could direct you to
your intended site, or to one that installs all sorts of
malware on your computer. Make sure you have real-time protection against spyware and viruses.
OMG, did you see this picture of you?
You receive an email or an instant message claiming a picture of you has just been posted—check it out
here! Immediately, you click on the link, which takes
you to your Twitter or Facebook log-in page. There,
you enter your account info.
Unfortunately, both the email and the landing
page are fake. That link you clicked took you to a
page that only looked like your intended social site.
It’s called phishing, and you’ve just been had. A
cyber-criminal now has your password, along with
control of your account. From there, those up to no
good can access information that may help them
hack into other accounts of yours.
To prevent this, make sure your Internet security includes anti-phishing defenses.
I RECENTLY took a holiday
cruise on the cruise line
Holland America [not
through Costco Travel].
Unfortunately, many people
on the ship contracted food
poisoning from the main
dining room during the
voyage. Worried that we
would also get sick, we left
the ship at the next port. How
can we get our money back?
Take this quiz—
all your friends have taken it!
On many social networking sites, you see questions that are supposedly funny or clever, such as
what type of character you may be from your favorite movie. You may be prompted to do something
fun, such as find out your I.Q. or vote for your favorite song. You enter your information and cell phone
number, as instructed. You have just unwillingly
subscribed to some dubious monthly service that
will charge your cell phone $9.95 a month.
Tweet for cash!
“Make money on Twitter!” and “Tweet for
profit!” claim that anyone can work from home and
make large sums simply by tweeting. If you fall for it
you are asked for your credit-card number in order to
pay a $1.95 shipping fee to get a “Twitter Cash Starter
Kit.” Later, you find out that the starter kit is only a
seven-day free trial, and the company then charges a
If you’re on Windows, run a security package.
Use a modern browser, such as the current versions
of Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, all of
which have built-in measures for protecting
you against the fraudulent sites used by
social network scammers. And make
sure you’ve got the current version of
your operating system, since it’ll have
the latest patches for security leaks.
Be particularly cautious about
any message that suggests you
click off the site to perform an
action such as watching a video
or seeing a photo. If an acquaintance sends you a cryptic note
that looks fishy, don’t hit
“Reply,” but send a separate
note to the person who sent
it, asking if it is real.
Be aware that a hacker
could break into one of
your friends’ social network
accounts and use it to spam
you with scam messages that
might lead you to give away
information. If the same hackers tamper with your account
they can launch attacks on your
family and friends. Protect your
personal information by choosing cryptic passwords with random characters, numbers and
punctuation marks. Change
them periodically. C
UNLESS YOU obtained written con;rmation that you would receive reimburse- ment for your trip, you are not entitled to one. The cruise line is responsible for the passengers who did get sick; however, if you chose to leave on your own, they are no longer esponsible, nor do they owe you reimbursement. However, I recommend that you write to Holland America’s parent company, Carnival Corp., and inform them of your experience. They may choose to give you a credit for your next voyage, but do not expect a full refund for your trip.
DAVID HORO WI TZ PHOTO: AMY CAN TRELL
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate. Visit his blog at
www.fightback.com. He is a frequent guest on radio and television
stations. Consult your local listings for dates and times.
© 2011 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
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