Happy Cousins Day…NOT!

Social media is a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, sharing the news about upcoming events, and just generally staying “in the know.” Unfortunately, it’s also a hotbed of scams and fraudulent activity which travels the globe under the guise of being genuine, interesting posts.

An email scam making the rounds right now appears to be a notification that you have a Facebook message waiting for you. Its subject line says, “Happy Cousins Day!” and the message contains the typical Facebook color scheme, logo, and more. Unfortunately, hovering your mouse of the sender’s address shows that it did not come from Facebook and that it redirects you to a website with downloads.

Now, for most internet users, it’s a safe bet that you have a cousin somewhere. It might not be a first cousin and you might not be close, but that’s the whole point of Facebook. You’re able to find and connect with people, even across great distances or without having spoken to each other in years. So it stands to reason that this made-up holiday could trigger some genuine cousin contact.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Like so many other internet hoaxes, this one entices you to click the included link to “read your message,” which really means you can’t find out which cousin sent this until you click. Once you do, you’re redirected to a site that may download malicious software to your computer.

The scammers are hoping that your natural curiosity gets you to click the link. So how do you find out that someone is trying to reach out to you, but avoid the danger? It’s actually easy. When you receive any kind of communication, whether it’s from social media, a financial institution, a news outlet, or another site, simply go directly to the source. Don’t click any links in the email, but rather head straight over to the alleged site, such as Facebook in this case.

If you did have a Facebook message waiting for you, it would appear as a red notification at the top right of your screen. On your smartphone, messages appear as a red symbol on the top left, while typical notifications appear at the bottom.

However, those notifications are only triggered if it’s someone you’re already connected to. If a long-distance friend or relative isn’t already connected to you, they can still message you but it won’t appear in your regular notifications. You have another “secret” message inbox on Facebook, but you only see these messages if you go looking in that folder. BE WARNED: this is where a lot of unsolicited messages appear, including phishing scams, spam offers, and sadly, even offensive photos.

On your computer, all you have to do to find these messages is click the Messenger icon at the top right of your screen, then look down at the end of the list to “see all messages.” When you click that phrase, it will open up a whole screen where your different inboxes are available. On your phone, the process is similar, but the Messenger icon is on the top left.

If your cousin really sent you a message on Facebook, it will be waiting for you in there.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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