Facebook has over 2.9 billion active users, making it the world’s largest social media platform. With this figure, it’s no surprise that scammers have taken advantage of the platform's large user base, resulting in billions of dollars in financial losses as a result of Facebook scams, according to the FBI.
So, how can you avoid becoming a statistic? It starts by knowing the most common scams and the steps you can take to avoid them.
Common Facebook Scams to Look Out For
When it comes to using social media, it's usually better to be overly cautious—especially on Facebook. With the increase of fraudulent scammers targeting Facebook users, here are some of the most common Facebook scams to watch out for:
Money & Lottery Scams
The money scam involves someone posing as an authority figure asking for personal information such as your Social Security number or bank account details in order to process a “lottery winning”. Once they have this information, they can steal your identity or empty your bank account.
Loan scams involve someone offering you a loan with low-interest rates and no fees. While this may sound like a great deal, these loans are often not legitimate and can end up costing you a lot of money in the long run.
Phishing scams involve someone trying to trick you into giving your personal information by posing as a legitimate organization. They may do this by sending an email or message that looks like it’s from Facebook or another site that asks you to enter your information. Once they have your information, they can use it to steal your identity or commit fraud.
These people are usually complete strangers that scam you by playing with your emotions. They may say they've recently gone through a breakup or shower you with compliments in order to gain your trust. But eventually, they will always ask you for money.
Job scams involve someone posting a fake job ad, often for a work-from-home opportunity. They may also ask you to pay for training materials or a background check. It’s important to be cautious when applying for any job, especially if it’s an unsolicited offer.
Facebook Quizzes and Games
All those fun quizzes you see on Facebook may appear harmless. However, these cons are anything but harmless. They're all intended to obtain information similar to that which individuals use to create passwords or respond to security questions for their online accounts.
Fake Charity Scams
When a crisis occurs, people donate money to help. Unfortunately, scammers are aware of this and use this opportunity to make easy money. They'll create fake charity pages that look real such as donation sites like GoFundMe. To donate, these fraudsters usually request that payments be made through a PayPal account.
Fake Friend Requests
If you've been on Facebook for a while, chances are you’re familiar with this scam. You receive a friend request from someone you're already friends with. This is a favorite tactic among scammers, who create identical Facebook accounts to look like an authentic person.
Saying yes to a fake Facebook request allows the scammer access to you, even if your account is private. They act friendly and then use your trust against you by asking you to click on a link that leads to malicious software.
Shopping, Discount, and Coupon Scams
Companies maintain an active presence on Facebook, regularly promoting their goods and services through posts that cybercriminals have taken advantage of. One tactic involves luring people in with the promise of providing discounts and coupons. This happens frequently and, sadly, often fools people.
Scammers also create fake brand accounts to sell counterfeit items. They establish unheard shops and push scam advertisements. These scammers offer products at low prices but don't provide anything in return and eventually go on to disappear.
How to Avoid Facebook Scams
Social media is a public platform that anyone can access at any time, so it's important to be aware of the scams that are out there. By being careful and knowing what to look for, you can avoid becoming a victim of a Facebook scam.
What You Can Do Within Facebook to Protect Yourself
As a Facebook user, you can follow some easy steps to make your account more private. This includes adjusting who can see your posts, photos, and information. Don't become a victim of fraud--keep reading to find out how you can avoid it.
Make sure your account is private
The first step in avoiding Facebook scams is to make your account private. Only people who are your friends can see your posts and information. To do this, go to your Facebook privacy settings and make sure only “Friends” can see your information. Be cautious about what you post.
Enable two-factor authentication
With this feature, you’ll be prompted to enter a code whenever you try to log in from a new device. This code is sent to your phone, so even if someone has your password, they won’t be able to log in to your account unless they have your phone.
Decline friend requests from strangers
Facebook scams usually start with a friend request from someone you don’t know. To avoid being scammed, only accept friend requests from people you actually know.
If you’re unsure, do a little research before accepting their request. A simple Google search of their name and profile photo can often reveal if they’re a scammer.
Ignore requests for personal information or money
If someone you don’t know asks you for personal information or money, ignore their request. Facebook is not a place to conduct transactions, so if someone asks you to buy something from them, it’s likely a scam.
The same goes for requests for personal information. Facebook already has this information, so there’s no reason for someone to ask you for it.
Avoid the temptation of clicking on suspicious links
Facebook scams spread through links that lead to fake websites. These websites may look legitimate, but scammers actually create them to steal your personal information. To avoid being scammed, don’t click on any links from people you don’t know.
Check your login history regularly.
To check your login history, go to your Facebook security settings and click Edit next to where you’re logged in. Here, you’ll see a list of all the devices used and the location and time of each login. If you see any logins you don’t recognize, your account may have been hacked.
Use a strong password
Facebook scams often involve hackers stealing passwords. To avoid this, use a strong password that’s difficult to guess. Your password should be at least 8 characters long and include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid words that can be found in your personal information, like your name, birthday, or address.
Shop only on verified Facebook brands
If you use Facebook to shop, be careful and only deal with verifiable Facebook pages. All reputable businesses take this extra precaution to reassure potential customers of the legitimacy of any transaction.
Regularly check for possible dummy accounts under your name
Get in the habit of regularly searching Facebook for your name to avoid being cloned by someone using fake accounts for malicious purposes. This only takes a minute, and it's an easy method to spot doppelganger accounts.
What You Can Do Outside Facebook to Protect Yourself
Since devices are used to access Facebook accounts, taking the necessary measures, like the ones listed below, can help protect you from fraud. Discover more by reading this section!
Keep your device’s operating system updated
Operating system updates often include security patches that can help protect your device from being hacked. So, if you’re not already using the latest version of your operating system, make sure to update to the newest version as soon as possible. Automate the process by turning on auto-updates.
Report suspicious emails
If you believe an email you received from Facebook is a fraud, please forward it to Facebook. They will investigate the situation. The email to send phishing reports is email@example.com.
Install antivirus software on your devices
If you don't want harmful malware to be downloaded on your gadgets, make sure to have a powerful antivirus program installed and running on them. Antivirus software can detect and remove malicious programs before they can do any damage.
What To Do If You’ve Fallen Victim to a Facebook Scam
If you think you've been scammed, don't worry. We're here to help. Below are some quick measures you can take to address the situation:
Report The Scam
The most efficient way to report abusive content or spam on Facebook is by using the Report link next to the questionable content. If you are reporting messages, doing so anonymously will help improve Facebook's system for reviewing other similar complaints that may go against Facebook Community Standards.
Change Your Password
After you've been hacked or simply fell for a phishing scam, it's important to change your Facebook password as soon as possible. If a password you've supplied isn't strong enough, mix lowercase and uppercase letters to make it stronger.
Monitor Your Bank Accounts
You should check all your accounts regularly, as cybercriminals often try small transactions first to see if they'll be successful. Report it to your bank immediately if you see anything out of the ordinary.
Freeze Your Credit
If you're worried about identity theft, take action by freezing your credit. Without this precautionary measure, scammers can do a number of things in your name, such as open bank and credit card accounts and apply for mortgages, etc.
Freezing your credit at the major credit reporting bodies will help you avoid this problem. No new credit will be issued under your social security number or name when you do. You may prevent this by freezing your credit at Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax in the United States.
Consider Identity Theft Protection Apps
Several apps available can help you keep an eye on your personal information and monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity. Some of these apps, such as LifeLock, may send you alerts if it detects anything malicious.
The Bottom Line
Facebook scams can take different forms, but they all have one goal: steal your personal information. Be aware of the signs of a Facebook scam, and take precautions to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
Should you give out your address on Facebook Marketplace?
No, you should not give out your address. Facebook does not verify the seller or buyer, so there is no guarantee that the person you are dealing with is who they say they are. If you must meet in person, choose a public place to do so.
What can a scammer do with my phone number?
A scammer can use your phone number to send you unwanted text messages or calls, or even sell it to other scammers. They may also use it to try to gain access to other accounts that are linked to your phone number, such as your bank account.
Will Facebook refund my money if I was scammed?
Facebook does not guarantee refunds, but you can report the scam to them and they will investigate.
Can I report a Facebook scammer to the police?
Yes, you can report a Facebook scammer to the police. Be sure to include as much information as possible, such as screenshots of any conversations you had with the scammer and links to any Facebook pages or groups they were using.
Do banks refund scammed money?
It depends on the bank. Some banks may refund your money if you can show that you were a victim of fraud, but others may not. You should contact your bank to find out their policy on refunds for scams.