First, I want to apologize for there not being any blog posts last week (or Tuesday of this week.) I got hit up beside the head with a pretty vicious flu bug and it knocked me down for a few days.

    Today's post will be for all of our Facebook friends out there. We'll take a quick look at the five most common (or biggest) scams (or hoaxes) that seem to persist on Facebook.

     The good guys over at Facebook tend to keep a very tight, well-oiled machine in play, but there is always a chance that something gets through the cracks. Here are the top five:

1) CHANGE YOUR PROFILE COLOR

     This is actually a survey scam application. If you click on the link, it asks you to “like” the app first, and if you click on “continue” you’ll land at an app permission page. If you authorize the app to access your Facebook account it will send spam messages to all your friends. And to top it off, your profile color is still blue.

2) FREE GIFT CARD OR VOUCHER

      If somebody on Facebook tells you Sam's Club, McDonald's, Best Buy or any other company is giving away vouchers or gift cards if only you invite your friends to the offer or click on a link — don’t believe it. If you do, you’ll end up spamming all your contacts with bogus messages about the fake offer and you will be asked to participate in surveys or prodded to complete “reward offers” in which you may be asked for personal information. If you supply your information to these "bad" marketers, they can (and almost always will) sell your data to others which provides them a means to harass you via non-Facebook media.

3) INTERESTING PHOTOS OR VIDEOS

     This one is a little tricky. People share interesting photos and videos on Facebook as often as they update their status. And there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is when the photo or video asks you to do something.

     For instance, if you click on a link titled “Look what this girl wore at the beach in front of thousands of people!” you will actually end up at what looks like a video feed, but if you click on it you’ll get a message saying you need to update your YouTube player. If you choose to install it, you are actually downloading malware to your computers. At the same time, hidden code will cause a Facebook “like” to appear on your Timeline, which will only encourage your friends who see it to also click on the bad video or photo lure.

     There is a new variation on this scam that sends what looks like a Facebook notification to your email account, telling you that one of your friends tagged you in a new photo. If you’re curious and click on the attached ZIP file you will effectively unleash malware that will give hackers the keys to your Windows computer. REMINDER: NEVER open an email attachment without scanning it with a reputable A/V program first.

4) SEE WHO IS VIEWING YOUR PROFILE

    This is one of the biggest scams or hoaxes running the circuit on Facebook. After it requires you to like the app, you’ll be asked to give the app permission to access your Facebook account. If you do so, not only will everyone on your friend list get a spam message from you, you’ll also be prompted to take various surveys. And for the best part? It never shows you who has been viewing your profile.

     What does Facebook say about this scam?

     "Facebook does not provide a functionality that enables you to track who is viewing your timeline, or parts of your timeline, such as your photos. Third party applications also cannot provide this functionality. Applications that claim to give you this ability will be removed from Facebook for violating policy. You can report applications that provide untrustworthy experiences."

5) COPYRIGHT AND PRIVACY RIGHTS PROTECTION

     Again, recently there’s been posts floating around Facebook (from your friends) that tells users that posting a particular legal notice to their Facebook wall allows them to retain the copyright of any content they post on the site as well as protect their rights to privacy.

     What does Facebook say about this rumor?

     "There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users' information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been."

     So what do you do if you've clicked on one of these things? Don't disconnect, or close, your Facebook account or anything like that. It is not "dangerous" in the worst sense of the word but does need to be corrected. Here's how:

     1) Check your profile and delete any references to it.
     2) Check your apps and delete any that you have allowed. To do this. go to the small arrow on the top right corner of your screen, then Accounts and then Apps.
     3) Also check for any of these pages that you have "liked" by going to your timeline and clicking on your "likes" icon at the top of the page. If there's any of the "bad" pages there, make sure you "unlike" them.

     Remember what our parents always told us: If it sounds to good to be true, it most likely is ... even in the technology world.

     There will not be a post next Tuesday as it is Christmas Day here in the United States and I'll be enjoying some incredibly good food, great friends and family. Oh yeah, I'll be busy opening some presents, too!

     Merry Christmas everyone!

     Rob

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