Recognizing Facebook scams

A Facebook friend of mine had a link posted this morning, excitedly telling other friends that Starbucks is giving away $50 gift cards in celebration of its 40th birthday! Yay! But, um, no.

First of all, is Starbucks really 40? Wow. I mean I know they’ve had a stranglehold on our morning addiction for more than a decade, but I had no idea they had been around for THAT long!  Hey, go on with your bad self, Starbucks!

But, trust me, a place that charges over $4 for a flavored latte isn’t going to give the masses $50 each to “celebrate” being in business for 40 years (because if they did engage in these kinds of celebratory-business practices, they wouldn’t have made it 40 years, right? Am I right?)

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Facebook scam. We’ll be talking about these a lot on this site.

Cyber Savvy Mom wants you to be able to recognize what isn’t OK on Facebook so you can protect yourself, and your family.

So here are a few introductory rules:

If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Starbucks is not giving out gift cards. You will NOT win a free iPad for taking this survey. These ploys are typically just ways to get you to click on data harvesting sites that will try and get you to give up personal information, including passwords, birthdates, information that can generally be used to break into accounts or profiles.  Do not EVER give anyone your password or other sensitive information that you use to access things like bank accounts and email.

Is this you in this video?

No, it is not. And as soon as you let your curiosity get the better of you and click to see, you will likely be infected with some nasty malware (malicious software that gets dropped on your computer).  You will also spam the link out to other friends’ Facebook walls and put them at risk.

Besides, what are you worried about? You’re probably like me; so old that when you were out making a fool of yourself in nightclubs, they didn’t yet have the wonderful humiliator known as the cell-phone camera. Relax.

Justin Bieber Naked! You wish, pervert.

The Biebs is constantly surrounded by security, his mom, that clingy girlfriend from the Disney Channel, and others. No one is going to get a picture of his barely post-pubescent butt in the nude.

Nor will you ever get access to pictures of Osama Bin Laden’s dead body, video of Ashton Kutcher hooking up with that little tart (tarts?) he cheated with on Demi, or a scene that includes a girl who is OMG!! SO EMBARRASSED AFTER HER FATHER WALKED IN ON HER DOING THIS!!  If you see a link claiming to have this sort of celebrity/scandal/morbid pictures or video, DO NOT CLICK!

There are scores more examples, all of which the Cyber Savvy Mom will guide you through in months to come. For now, remember: avoid questionable links.  And, for those of you with teenagers who use Facebook, please, please, please fill them in. They are the ones who are much more likely to being ensnared by some of these scams.

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