Scam Hits Facebook and Twitter

The next time you log on to Facebook or Twitter, think before you click.

There's a new scam hitting social networking sites, aimed at stealing your personal information.

"The scammer is pretending to be a trusted entity, a friend, and says 'hey, go to this site,' or 'check this out!'" says Charles Steinfield, Professor and Chair of MSU's Dept. of Telecommunications, Information Studies, and Media.

It's a link to a free iPhone, or to a blog about you, or to pictures of a friend.

"I just got one of those today," says Chris Manning, who didn't fall for the scam. "I thought it was from somebody I knew, and it wasn't obviously, but instead of taking me to Facebook, it took me to somewhere else."

The same thing happened to Courtney Hahn.

"They did say that my profile pic was on a different website, and then they asked for my information," says Hahn, who did fill out her name and email address, before reporting the scam to MSU.

That's how it works. Users click on a link and are redirected to a site that looks like Facebook or Twitter, but it's not. They have to log in again, and then scammers steal their information.

Charles Steinfield studies these scams.

"What it seems that they're doing in this latest Facebook and Twitter scam is just collecting log-in information," he explains.

Steinfield says scammers use that information to spam more people, and to gather personal information they can use to apply for credit cards.

"Identity theft is another very real danger," Steinfield points out.

And, because some people use the same password for multiple accounts, scammers can log on to websites like amazon.com and buy on your dime.

To avoid these scams, Steinfield suggests using the newest web browsers, because they can red-flag fraudulent web sites.

Also, don't click right on a link. Instead, type it into the browser yourself.

If a friend sends you a message that doesn't sound like something they would say, check with them before clicking on the link.


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