Investing

Nine Major Ways Criminals Use Facebook

6. Fake Facebook

A common form of phishing is the fake Facebook scam. The scammers direct users via some sort of clickable enticement, to a spurious Facebook log-in page designed to look like the real thing. When the victims enter their usernames and passwords, they are collected in a database, which the scammer often will sell. Once scammers have purchased a user’s information, they can take advantage of their assumed identity through apps like Facebook Marketplace and buy and sell a laundry list of goods and services. Posing as a reputable user lets the scammer capitalize on the trust that person has earned by selling fake goods and services or promoting brands they have been paid to advertise.

7. Affinity Fraud

In cases of affinity fraud, con artists assume the identity of individuals in order to earn the trust of those close to them. The criminal then exploits this trust by stealing money or information. Facebook facilitates this type of fraud because people on the site often end up having a number of “friends” they actually do not know personally and yet implicitly trust by dint of their Facebook connection. Criminals can infiltrate a person’s group of friends and then offer someone deals or investments that are part of a scheme. People can also assume an identity by infiltrating a person’s account and asking friends for money or sensitive information like a Social Security or credit card number.

8. Mining Unprotected Info

Few sites provide an easier source of basic personal information than Facebook. While it is possible to keep all personal information on Facebook private, users frequently reveal their emails, phone numbers, addresses, birth dates and other pieces of private data. As security experts and hackers know, this kind of information is often used as passwords or as answers to secret security questions. While the majority of unprotected information is mined for targeted advertising, it can be a means to more pernicious ends such as profile cloning and, ultimately, identity theft.

9. Spam

Not all spam — the mass sending of advertisements to users’ personal accounts — is against the law. However, the existence of Facebook and other social sites has allowed for a new kind of spam called clickjacking. The process of clickjacking, which is illegal, involves the hacking of a personal account using an advertisement for a viral video or article. Once the user clicks on this, the program sends an advertisement to the person’s friends through their account without their knowledge. This has become such an issue for the social media giant that earlier this year that the company has teamed up with the U.S. Attorney General to try to combat the issue.

-Michael B. Sauter, Adam Poltrack and Ashley C. Allen

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