Apr 8, 2013 4:24 PM by MELISSA CANONE
Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family around Acadiana and the world, but this and other social networks can also open the door to scams and identity theft.
The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana warns that this and similar networking sites can allow scammers to gain access not only to the user but also all of his or her "friends" and contacts.
One such scam reported to the BBB is similar to scams residents have received by mail in the past.
The Facebook post, which claimed to be from an attorney, falsely informed an Acadiana resident that a distant family member was killed in a foreign country and she was the beneficiary of a $14.5 million life insurance policy as the nearest surviving relative.
The post then went on to ask the resident to contact the fake attorney at an email address.
When the resident responded to the email address, she was informed that she had to wire thousands of dollars in order to collect on the policy.
The email was in broken English and had several grammatical errors, a sure sign of a foreign scam.
The BBB of Acadiana has also received reports of the Jamaican phone scam also moving to Facebook.
As with the scam phone calls, the posts informed residents that they won millions of dollars and a new luxury vehicle through a national lottery or sweepstakes.
But in order to collect the prize, the resident had to send hundreds of dollars.
Nationally, the phone version of this scam has robbed Americans of millions of dollars, and the Facebook version promises to also be financially damaging to residents.
A third facebook scam reported nationally by the BBB involves an email that appears to be from a friend or family member. The message addresses you by name, but the content is usually just a link to a website. If you click on it, you could end up downloading malware on to your computer, opening the door to identity theft.
Scammers find your information through your social media accounts and then exploit the fact that you're more likely to click on a link sent by a friend.
Some scammers set up fake accounts and send out friend requests to gain access to your personal information. Others rely on social media users not locking down their privacy settings, so their basic information, such as their name, email address and friends' names, can be seen by the public.
To protect your personal information shared on social media:
Check your privacy setting on all your social media accounts to ensure you aren't sharing personal information with strangers.
This could be a scammer's attempt to gain access to your personal information.
Some social sites, such as Facebook, have instructions on how to report fake accounts or accounts that violate the terms of the site.
Even if the email came from a trusted friend or family member, do not click on any link in an email that might seem suspicious. If you have any reservations, notify the person who sent you the email to confirm what they sent and if they really sent the message.
Even though a friend's name is in the "from" field, spam email won't always be sent from his or her email address.
Keep your anti-virus software up to date. If you click on a link, be sure to run a virus scan on your computer right away.
The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please contact the BBB at www.acadiana.bbb.org or (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.
The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.