Security Social Media

How to Identify a Facebook Scam Before It’s Too Late

Joel Lee 16-12-2014

Scams are everywhere. You’ve got PayPal scams How Scammers Target Your PayPal Account & How To Never Fall For It PayPal is one of the most important accounts you have online. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge PayPal fan, but when it comes to your money, you don’t want to play around. While... Read More , eBay scams 10 eBay Scams to Be Aware Of Being scammed sucks, especially on eBay. Here are the most common eBay scams you need to know about, and how to avoid them. Read More , Craigslist scams Taking the Battle to Craigslist Scammers: How to Avoid Scams on Craigslist Launched way back in 1995, Craigslist took the Internet world by storm with its innovative cross of classified ads with the web. But as with all Internet-based transactions, some users prefer to game the system... Read More , email scams 5 Worst Email Scams Of 2014 You Should Be Aware Of Read More , wire transfer scams How I Nearly Got Conned Via A Western Union Transfer Scam Here's a little story about the latest "Nigerian scam", which is all too obvious in hindsight and yet so believable when you're on the hook. Read More , and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Even “safe” sites like Facebook are flooded with scams every day. Can you tell whether that link you’re about to click is a scam or not?


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 Profile

This 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 Features

This 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 Scams

A 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 5 Online Scams To Be Aware Of This Christmas It is the season of cheer and joy, but there are malicious people out there who will capitalize on your good spirits to scam you out of a lot of money. Stay alert. Read More 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 Scams

Fake 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 Thoughts

Even 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. Here are some great tips for avoiding free gift card scams How to Recognize and Avoid Free Gift Card Scams: 7 Warning Signs Suspicious of free gift card scams? Here's how to confirm that you haven't, without giving away your details to cybercriminals. Read More , spotting social media scams 5 Ways To Spot Social Media Scams & Rogue Apps Facebook is a huge platform for all sorts of scams. Cleaning up after falling for one is a pain; let's take a look at some ways to identify and avoid them. Read More , and preventing online identity theft 3 Online Fraud Prevention Tips You Need To Know In 2014 Read More .

Have you ever fallen for a Facebook scam? What steps do you take to make sure that you don’t become a victim? Share your thoughts with us below!

Related topics: Facebook, Online Security.

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  1. Fred gipson
    April 27, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I being scared now with a money price y 500.000.00 how do I help get them?

  2. Anna cardona
    May 25, 2016 at 9:33 pm


  3. Ty
    January 20, 2016 at 5:52 am

    This was a very helpful guide

  4. Debbie
    January 6, 2015 at 2:36 am

    Thank you, Joel!

  5. Debbie
    December 26, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Curious your thoughts about 'Social Fixer.' It almost sounds that it would be in the 'new fb features' category listed above. Yet I doubt that it is a scam. The # who use it is near 350,000
    and 21,000 have subscribed to its private blog. Their purpose is to simplify FB and to make it more user friendly. The problem is that FB gets wind of it and keeps changing codes, so SF needs to keep rewriting their 'program.'

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Debbie. I don't personally use Social Fixer (I don't use Facebook much in general) but I have heard of it and I have checked it out before. It seemed like a legitimate extension to me. I do remember that the creator was having trouble with some features because Facebook kept tweaking their code, but as far as privacy/security, I don't think there's much to worry about.