Getting messages on social media from friends and family usually solicits immediate clicks, but you may want to hesitate for a minute.
There is a new scam using Facebook Messenger; it is a video link including your picture asking, “Is this you?” It will look like this is a message from someone you know and trust, saying they were surprised to see you in a video. The message includes a web address that allegedly leads you to the video.
Don’t follow the link! Delete the message and make sure your firewall and anti-virus software are up to date. Also, beware in many situations, your computer or social media account is used to send the phishing attempt back out to everyone on your contact list, this time using your name and image as “bait.”
These types of scams are called phishing (pronounced “fishing”), it’s a fraudulent attempt to steal your information. Cybercriminals want your passwords, bank account numbers or other sensitive information, or they want to trick you into downloading malware onto your computer. The cybercriminal might contact you through email, text message or social media.
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If regular fishermen just tossed in a hook, they wouldn’t catch much. The trick is to completely hide the hook by offering bait that is irresistible. That is why they use platforms like Facebook Messenger where you only typically hear from people you care about, so your guard is already down. When you see the notification you’ve received a message, you experience a tiny dose of positive emotion, expectation, and curiosity. You want to know what this person you care about has to say. Before you even click on the message, that bait has your attention.
The way it’s written makes it sound like they’re surprised to see you doing whatever you’re doing in a video of that type. Your curiosity intensifies, and you may also feel alarmed. You wonder what they’re talking about, and you want to protect your reputation. Your concern might cause you to act before you think through the consequences.
The Better Business Bureau recommends the best way to keep yourself from becoming the fish that bites is to always think before you click. If your friend wouldn’t typically send that type of message, it’s best to check with them before you click. Another way scammers like to get you is by causing alarm to create urgency. You might get a message that indicates you’re in a compromising video, your password is being reset, your account is in danger of deactivation or some other situation that needs immediate attention. If it seems unlikely, watch out.
If you would like more information on phishing scams or this scam, in particular, please visit bbb.org.