Let me ask you something – online scams are a common thing when you’ve got an email account, but how many of you, and for that matter, myself, really know what’s at stake, here? Bank details, phone numbers, private and personal messages are all going missing, and it’s due to online scamming.
We get dodgy emails all the time – for me, personally, it’s ones offering jobs, claiming my (frozen) World of Warcraft account’s been hacked, or offering me the not-so-thrilling chance to chat with a scammer claiming to be a 21 year-old Russian woman who’s “seen my pics” and “wants to chat”.
It’s patronising, really, but it’s also pretty serious. You’d be surprised at the amount of people being tricked by better-disguised fake domain names and HTML-enabled emails, and of course, those contacted via their Facebook, MySpace or Twitter accounts. There are people savvy enough to chuck Outlook and head over to Thunderbird, but who still don’t use the View options to check the IP addresses and the real email accounts from which these scam emails have come before they happily click away, blissfully ignorant of the consequences. That is until their mortgage payment bounces and they realise they own four boats and a dog in Hawaii.
Social networking scams are really common, and of course it’s not limited to simple ad-spam hacks that make you spew endless garbage into your feed or onto other people’s Walls until they block or delete you. They’re also gaining access to your life, your personal messages, your arguments and your CV if they find the details for your LinkedIn account. Amir Orad, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Office for Actimize, a firm dealing in online security, thinks they’re going to contact your family. “Fraudsters hack a social networking account, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or Bebo, and then contact friends and family of claiming that they are in trouble and need money to be sent immediately to a specified address,” he claims.
The answer to this particular dilemma is just plan common sense – phone them. I know talking on the phone may seem a little weird when you can simply say “hey, @mum, why the hassle for cash?” But realistically, it’s not her, and you’re just speaking to someone who just wants to convince you. Ask questions. Phone your dear old mum. And let her know that her Facebook or Twitter account’s been hijacked (then, of course, ask yourself why you’ve added your parents).
The dangers of social media scamming extends to businesses as well. If your accounts have been hijacked and your name is Amir Orad, chances are people are going to lose faith in your online security credentials. A business can be made to look very, very silly in a short amount of time. Mistakes do sometimes happen when your business’ account hasn’t been hacked, but your Twitterer is simply an idiot.