I believe it is my journalistic duty to keep the community safe from scammers.
Facebook and Twitter are fast becoming a potential minefield for tricksters and virtual grifters.
Taking advantage of Mark Zuckerberg’s assertion that “privacy is dead” , scams such as the Ikea $1,000 gift card* use your and your friends’ personal information to be placed on what WalletPop calls a “suckers list.”
The New York Times (NEW YORK TIMES!?!) even did a write-up of all the crazy personal details your personal tastes on Netflix can reveal about you.
So, my dear padawans, please take these following tips to heart when faced (or Facebooked) with a deal you just can’t resist.
1. Forget too good to be true, just Google before you click!
As “too good” and “true” have very flexible interpretations among your friends, extol them to GOOGLE BEFORE YOU CLICK! Simply typing in the words Ikea Facebook Scam leads you to over 300,000 results all saying the same thing:
“DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES INVITE YOUR FRIENDS TO THIS FAN PAGE!”
You must also extend this rule to anyone approaching you with a “business proposal.” Just Google their company name + pyramid scam. It has saved me and my family from potential hemorrhage of assets.
2. WTF, mate?
Getting hacked isn’t fun, but I would venture that being the friend of someone who just got hacked is less fun. Give your friend a nudge by saying “WTF, mate is up with this tweet?” If they ask you to try out something new, simply ask them what it’s all about. They might actually have something going on or they could be hacked because they used a really stupid password. Let them know immediately of their horrendous mistake.
3. Your password sucks
There’s a reason why your bank requires your online password to have numbers, upper- and lower-cases, and random symbols like #$*. Don’t get hacked! If you think you can’t remember it, create a mnemonic device. If you love horses, don’t make your password “horses” (I’m looking at you, you know who you are.) Make it: i3rth0r$es (I heart horses). You see how awesome that is? The more letters the better. The weirder the letter substitutions, the better.
You can use this handy spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take to brute force or dictionary attack your password: Password Strength Calculator
If you or a friend have been scammed, spammed, or canned, please leave your story in the comments.
*Poor Ikea, they never saw it coming.