If you think you’re too smart to fall for a scam, you may want to reconsider. A recent study by Bitdefender concluded that so many people are falling for these scams that no particular “type” of person is vulnerable. Anyone can become a victim simply because these scams are engineered so well to take advantage of basic human predispositions.
Are you human? Then you’re at risk. Here’s how to see through the malicious magic of these scams.
Guess Who Viewed Your ProfileThis scam claims to know which of your friends have viewed your profile and how often they’ve viewed it. If you want to access that data, you have to install an app. Unfortunately it doesn’t actually tell you anything useful; instead, once you’ve granted the app permissions, it begins collecting your personal data.
This particular scam has been around for a while now, yet its manipulative power is so strong that it continues to sit atop its throne as the most successful Facebook scam of the last two years.
Why Does It Work?Humans are both curious and relational creatures. This scam preys on both aspects by asking a scalpel-sharp question: “Does anyone care about you enough to view your profile? If so, who?” It tugs at our social and emotional strings and promises to show us what others think of us.
The curiosity aspect alone is a powerful enticer —look at any clickbait title to see just how strong this impulse can be — but the fact that it preys on our sense of social self-worth is a killer.
New Facebook FeaturesThis one is a kind of extension to the “profile viewer” scam above. In essence, these scams promise to grant you extra features on Facebook once you install a certain app. Examples of features include a dislike button and profile aesthetic customizations.
Why Does It Work?Facebook power users can’t give up the opportunity of improving their Facebook experience. In some cases, these extra features claim to alleviate some annoyances in the interface (e.g. hide sidebars); in other cases, the promised features are ways that users can set themselves apart from their friends and feel special (e.g. unique profiles).
Giveaway ScamsA giveaway scam often presents itself as a competition that requires you to enter by filling out personal details. In return, you’ll earn a chance to win a free product, free gift card, or even a free vacation. You’ll never win, however, and all of the personal information you entered will be sold.
The holiday season is ripe with this kind of deception as it’s reasonable to assume that people would run giveaways during festive times, making this a popular holiday scam to watch out for.
Why Does It Work?People love free stuff. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. That being said, these giveaway scams love to ramp up the urgency by setting a time limit or entry limit.
For example, the time-critical nature of a statement like “the first 100 entries win a free iPad” means people rush to enter before thinking critically. Not many people want to be the loser who missed out on a free iPad because they wasted precious minutes testing the validity of a giveaway.
Shocking Video ScamsFake celebrity videos pop up on Facebook from time to time and they’re mostly, but not always, presented as leaked sex tapes. The sole goal is to get you to click a link that will then ask you to update your video player, which is just a clever way to get you to voluntarily download malware.
Another form of this scam is the “atrocity video”: brutality, freak accidents, beheadings, etc.
Why Does It Work?Like the “Guess Who Viewed Your Profile” scam, this one also appeals to our sense of curiosity but amplifies it by mixing in a healthy dose of taboo subject matter. Nothing tastes better than forbidden fruit — especially when that fruit is the object of celebrity worship or morbid curiosity — and this scam knows it.
It’s what happens when clickbait is taken to the extreme.
Final ThoughtsEven the most tech-savvy, on-guard person can fall victim to one of these scams. They’re currently trending on Facebook but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happening elsewhere. The key to avoiding such scams is to stay alert, refrain from being impulsive, and double-check every link you click.
But most of all, knowledge is the way to win
Article by Joel Lee - Security Matters
16 December 2014