Protect Your Identity Online
The recent Ad Age report which estimates that Facebook is expected to book $1.86 Billion in Ad Revenue shows us that Facebook is becoming a major competitor to Google when it comes to advertising, and also can serve as a reminder that we need to protect ourselves and our identities online from scams – those scams definitely pay part of that huge number of advertising dollars to Facebook. 60% of that revenue comes from small businesses, rather than the traditional advertising big boys. There is also another report which outlines the increase in scams, phishing, and other malware stuff on Social Networking sites. This is not surprising at all. To me, this is a signal that there is something to pay attention to here.
So how do you protect yourself?
- To begin with, create a password that is SECURE. Don’t use a password that is all lower case letters. Mix it up. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. The more, the better.
- Use your head. Common sense can prevent most, if not all, phishing or scams from happening in the first place.
- Practice common sense – If something seems too good to be true, it most certainly is. What would you do if someone walked up to you on the street and told you they had a free Ipad for you, and all you had to do was provide them your name, address, and credit card number? Hopefully, you’d keep walking.
- Be reasonable – There is no such thing as a free ipad or iphone. Stop clicking on those ads.
- Pay attention – If you own a business, you are going to visit the shop to check in. Do the same with your Facebook and other accounts. Go and see what’s happening there.
- Review your settings on both Facebook and Twitter – Check out what external sites you are allowing access to your FB and Twitter information. If there is anything on there that you don’t recognize, delete it immediately. If you truly need it, you can always add it back later when you remember what it was for!
- Follow Mashable on Twitter – If you are following Mashable on Twitter, and paying attention to Twitter, you are going to see almost immediately if there is a scam that is sweeping the online landscape. They are a great resource for all things Social Media. I trust them more than any other sources combine.
- Have a saved search on Twitter for Facebook Scams and Email Scams and Twitter Scams. Just look at the results though, don’t click on them. There are scams that masquerade as helpful posts which will allow you to prevent scams! I look for multiple “hits” on the same thing. A great example was the issue that happened with Twitter this year right before they were changing the design of everyone’s profile – I had a twitter search for “twitter scam” and noticed that there was a ton of activity. I avoided twitter.com and was all set.
- Don’t open attachments in emails from people that you don’t know.
- Don’t click on “Pop Up” ads.
- If you are unsure about something, google it and see what you come up with.
- Use your head! I can’t stress this enough. There is something about the anonymity and enormity of the internet that makes people think that “anything is possible” – even if the person is generally pretty rational. Try and apply your real-life experience in the online world.
So what do you do if you click through and become the victim of a phishing scam?
- Log out of the program.
- Change your passwords. Immediately. All of them.
- Send a message to your contacts letting them know what happened. This can really help slow down the growth of a phishing scam – as you are eliminating the chain that you started by getting caught in the net.
- Go back into your settings and remove any OAuth access that you don’t recognize.
- For Facebook:
- Go into “Privacy Settings”
- On the bottom left hand corner, choose “Apps and Websites” (You can see the red Arrow pointing the way!)
- Click on “Edit your settings”
- Click on “Edit Settings”
- Remove anything you don’t recognize by clicking on the “x” and deleting it.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report.
- Report the scam. If it’s an actual business, and the scam was something pretending to be the business, let that business know. If it is on Facebook, use the “Report” feature to let FB know about it.
- Go to the ID theft page for the Federal Trade Commission and learn more about what exact steps to take.
This is just a quick list of tools for you to be aware of. These little steps really can go a long way to preventing issues.