Wouldn’t you like to receive gifts and discounts all the time? We all would. But we have to keep in mind that a wish like that is one thing cybercrooks would find easy to exploit. Curiosity is another. They have been exploiting them both for some time now, by “spreading” free wins and catchy content online almost on a weekly basis. And Facebook is a constant target, as it is always buzzing with news and human interaction. However, as it turns out, to get hold of the win or see the alluring video/picture/piece of news you have to fill in an online survey. A phony survey aiming for your personal details and putting your internet security at risk. Needless to say, after completing the survey, you don’t get the promised gift.
The anatomy of a Facebook survey scam
Usually, Facebook survey scammers follow this thread: exposing a catchy message, spreading the message, hitting jackpot: internet security breached successfully. To what end? Earning money, of course!
- 1. Exposure. The first step in a typical Facebook survey scam is sharing malicious links on Facebook walls, accompanied by enticing messages. Usually these messages exploit human emotions. Cyber criminals rely heavily on them to bring down your internet security. And what better place to do that than Facebook? Typically, there are four kinds of messages, leveraging on excitement, human suffering and curiosity, and promising:
- Free products or gift cards: “Check this out! You actually get a FREE iPad”, “$500 Victoria's Secret gift card”.
- Exclusive news about celebrities and world events: “OMG! ... Justin BIEBER hits Girl for NO Reason!”, “Japan Tsunami sucks in WHOLE village!”, “BBC News - Osama bin Laden Killed (LIVE VIDEO)”.
- Sensational content (article, video, photo) about some extraordinary facts: “OMG! You have to see this…”, “This status got this girl expelled…”
- New Facebook features: “See who’s viewed your profile/who stalks you on Facebook”.
- 2. Diffusion. Once the message gets your attention, you’re tempted to click on the link to see the video/photo, benefit from the free gift or make use of the fake Facebook feature. In order to do so, you’re asked to share/like/comment on the link or the page it leads to, or install a Facebook app/download a file. Behind some of the links there’s malware and once you click on them, the malicious code starts sending the message to your friends or posts it on your wall – that’s clickjacking. In case you install the fake Facebook app, this may automatically start to share the scam from your account. This way, not only your internet security and privacy are compromised but those of your friends as well.
- 3. Jackpot. The last step you have to take in order to get hold of what’s been promised to you, is to fill in a survey. What you don’t know is that every time a victim completes a survey, scammers get paid. They usually claim you have to complete the survey as an antispam measure or to prove that you are human. Later on, the information you give in can be used by marketers, hackers or identity thieves.
Unfortunately there’s no internet security police to watch your back. But there are ways to avoid falling for such internet security scams.
How to avoid/ “clean up” after Facebook survey scams:
- If you see exhilarating words such as “OMG”, “Amazing”, “Shocking” on your friends’ wall, ignore the messages and the content they promote. Also, if you see grammar errors, misspelled words and punctuation in them, you may be dealing with a survey scam. Unless, of course, you know that particular friend isn’t a particularly good speller.
- If a Facebook survey asks you for sensitive information such as phone number, address, full name, there’s a good chance it’s a scam survey. Avoid it, for your own internet security and privacy of your data. Also, if you’ve downloaded an app, remove it from your account.
- It’s best you have safe browsing technology installed on your computer, to flag all safe links/websites on your Facebook Wall. BullGuard Internet Security 12 comes with such a feature.
- If, unwittingly, you’ve shared, liked or commented on a message with a link to a survey scam, go to your profile, locate the Share/Like/Comment and delete it. You don’t want your friends to fall for the scam.
- If you’ve downloaded files to your computer then use an effective antivirus and run a full system scan. BullGuard’s internet security software has a dual antivirus engine that detects all types of internet security threats, no matter how old or new.