I recently received an email on my Facebook account asking me to wire $1,000 to my friend, his wife and two kids who were stuck in Europe. According to the email they had been robbed of all their money, passport and belongings and were trying to get home. The email sounded completely realistic and I was close to actually sending them the money until something stopped me. You see my friends wouldn’t ask for a specific amount of money. They might say something like “can you send me some money” or ” can you help me out” but I doubt they would be so specific as to ask for $1,000. It turns out it was a fraud. Someone had hacked into his account and sent that email to all his friends. Luckily no one took the bait.
In these economic times, it is said that crime increases both on and off line. People get desperate and anyone can be a victim. There are ways, however, to protect yourself online.
- Think twice before you post. I know this seems obvious but use your better judgment when posting pictures, video, status bar entries, profile info, etc. A good rule of thumb is to never post your social security number or any kind of personal information such as your address.
- Be selective in who you friend. It’s not a contest of how may friends you have on your Facebook profile. If someone sends you a friend request and you don’t know them, don’t befriend them, it’s that simple.
- Use your privacy settings. Facebook has privacy settings so you can limit the amount of information different friends can see. Check out this article on the 10 things you can do to protect your privacy on Facebook.
Most of the time being safe is just a matter of using some good old common sense. So don’t get paranoid and stop using Facebook, just be smart about what you post, who you let in and what information you offer.
Be well, be safe.