Within the last month, the number of Facebook, email and phone scams have risen significantly. Since ignorance is the biggest factor in falling prey to a scammer, this article will shed some light on a few of scams currently in circulation.
“Click Bait” Social Media Scams
“Click Bait” scams have become a popular method of distributing spam and malware on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The scam takes the form of a viral post that promises a sensational headline. Recently, scammers have exploited the media coverage that surrounds Malaysian Airlines flight 370 to provide the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the curious. Prior to this, celebrity mishaps and “shocking” discoveries were common fodder for the scam.
If a user is unfortunate enough to follow a “Click Bait” link they are typically redirected to website that will attempt to gain entry to their computer or infect it with malware. A common side effect of this hijack attempt is that the scammers will gain possession of the users Facebook account as a means to further propagate the scam.
Have you received a notice about Facebook lottery winnings? Unfortunately, you are simply the target of an information stealing hoax. The Facebook Lottery scam sends a private message to a user and informs them that they have won a prize through an official promotion. In order to claim the prize, the recipient is told to contact the dispatch department, which will in turn, collect additional information.
Of all the scams, this is perhaps the easiest to spot. Not only does the message fail to address the recipient by name, but it also requests that the user submit information to a non-Facebook email address. There are a few different variants of this scam in circulation so while the specifics may vary, you can be assured that Facebook does not hold monetary lotteries.
Phone Scams – Tax Fraud and “One-Ring” scam
Two new phone based scams have also entered into circulation this month and could result in unexpected phone charges, or worse! The first scam is timely for Tax Day and has caused a lot of duress for those unfortunate enough to receive it. This scam comes in the form of a call, which claims to be from the IRS. The recipient is told that they owe back taxes to the government and if they fail to present payment in a timely manner, they will face additional fines or even prosecution. The Tax Fraud scammers will frequently make multiple calls to a target and leave threatening messages if ignored. While frightening to the recipient, these calls can and should be ignored. The IRS has gone so far as to issue an official statement:
The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone. For more information or to report a scam, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.
The second phone scam is less frightening but is far easier to fall victim to and could result in significant charges on your phone bill. The “One-Ring” call scam has already affected millions of people and preys on a recipient’s curiosity. The victim’s phone rings once and then hangs up. The number is displayed on the owner’s caller ID and they attempt to call back; only once they do they are charged an exorbitant amount of money- as much as $19.95 for the base call and an additional $9/per minute.
If you encounter the “One-Ring” scam, or are unsure, the easiest way to protect yourself is to Google the number displayed on your caller ID. There are a limited number scammer phone numbers and a good chance that someone else has already filed a complaint.
Have you encountered one of these scams or witnessed a different one? Let us know in the comments below.
– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Webmaster and Lead Designer