Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. Scam Detector leads the way by publishing a top ten list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each week, ones that are either new or on the rise. Take a look at some of their more recent top scams or fraud attempts.
#1 – Facebook Privacy Hoax
Facebook is back in the Top Scams this week, this time for the privacy notice hoax. You’ve probably already seen a really weird paragraph posted to some of your friends’ walls that starts out, “Better safe than sorry, this was already reported on Channel 13 news…” Some jokester is once again convincing people that they must post a privacy notice on their Facebook walls to prevent Facebook from using, selling, or gathering their photos or posts.
It’s not true. If you’d actually read those terms of service that you agreed to when you signed up for a Facebook account (you did read all those, right?), you would know exactly what can happen to your content once you post it on social media. It’s out there for anyone to grab, whether you want them to or not. It’s important to also remember the difference between a scam and a hoax, as the second item in this week’s Top Scams illustrates perfectly…
#2 – Facebook Gold Membership Hoax/Scam
Why would anyone bother to start an online hoax like the privacy hoax? There was no money involved and no glory for the guy who thought it up, so what’s the point? Probably it’s just for fun, a game in which he gets to laugh as thousands of people fall victim to believing their content isn’t “safe” anymore. The more people who are gullible enough to share it, the funnier it becomes.
Scams, on the other hand, are not funny… not that hoaxes like this are all that amusing. In a scam like the Gold Membership scam, users are actually told that their accounts will no longer be set to “private” on Facebook unless they pay for a premium membership. Failure to pay will result in all of your content, photos, and posts being immediately made public.
This one isn’t true either, and most of the versions making the rounds don’t actually connect to a link to submit your payment. Once again, it’s just a stupid hoax on the part of the guys who started it. It becomes a scam, however, once someone actually begins to target people for money and tries to collect that fee. Of course, sharing the hoax post can indicate to scammers which social media users are gullible enough to fall for it; that could lead them to message users directly with a link to submit payment. Be aware that Facebook is a free service, and that the company’s own FAQ page states it will never charge the public to use it. Any post you see to the contrary simply isn’t true.
#3 – Medical Coverage Scam
Seniors are once again being hit hard with a scam that targets one of their most vulnerable fears: health coverage. Once again, scammers are coming after the elderly with fake prescription drug coverage, discount plans, and even attempts to get their identifying information by claiming they’re sending out new cards and need to verify the patient’s info.
Do not give out any personal information to someone who contacts you by phone. Whether it’s to verify your account, submit a payment that they claim your coverage provider never received, take payment for a bill that they claim is due, or any other effort to get at your identity or your finances, do not handle it over the phone. All unsolicited transactions should be handled via mail or through a phone call that you initiate to your provider using a phone number you have for the company.
For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit Scam-Detector.com or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.