Facebook Phishing: A New Social Phenomenon

Worried about Facebook phishing? Here's what you need to know

For the last decade, phishing has become an increasingly troublesome aspect of the internet. With the advent of social networking websites like Facebook, it was only natural that identity thieves take advantage of the phenomenon.

Unfortunately, many of us structure much of our social lives around Facebook and include a lot of personal information on those sites. Obviously, we don't post our social security numbers or credit card information in our profiles, but once someone has access to your Facebook account, they can do a surprising amount of damage.

How Facebook phishing works

Like any phishing scam, Facebook phishing starts with an email. Often this email takes the form of an official looking notice from Facebook asking you to confirm your login information, usually with some sort of threat about cancelling your account to give the request urgency. If you reply to the email directly, you give your information to the thief.

But most thieves expect you to be smarter than that in these days of phishing email awareness, so they also include a link to a site with the word facebook in its url (such as 'this is not facebook'). This gives things the look of legitimacy, but when you enter your information, you give it to the thief instead of logging in as you expected.

The idea is to trick you into giving out your login information so that the thief can log in under your name. Once they're logged in, it is of course a simple matter to change your password to one of their choosing, making it impossible for you to access your own account.

At this point, the thief can contact your friends under your name asking for financial assistance. It's also very common for them to post links to the site that tricked you in the first place, allowing them to use the social networking features to gather more and more victims. And since you can't log in, you can't even warn your friends and family about the scam -- or at least, not via Facebook.

How to protect yourself

Facebook phishing is the same as many other scams. If you follow basic phishing email precautions, such as not clicking on unknown links, you'll thwart a lot of the phishing before it gets started. More specifically, Facebook has some other recommendations you can follow:

-Use the most recent browser possible to make sure your antiphishing information is up to date

-Don't use the same login and password for every website -- many people do, and that way if a thief can access one site, s/he can access them all

-Be suspicious of any link on Facebook that requires an additional login

-If you suspect your Facebook account is compromised, change your password immediately and contact Facebook directly

-Never log into Facebook from an outside link: go to Facebook directly

If you follow these tips, you can keep yourself safe from Facebook phishing.

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