Seems like it happens every other week on Facebook: Someone posts a weird warning message about the privacy and security of personal info, with instructions to post it as your own status and help spread the word. So you do--only to find out later it was a hoax--or you don’t… but a tiny part of you is left wondering if you’ve left yourself vulnerable to identity fraud or some other scam.
Time to put a stop to the madness! Don’t let yourself be peer pressured into following the crowd. If you can remember these five guidelines, you’ll never fall for another Facebook hoax again.
Facebook will always be free. This week’s hoax that spread all over the Internet told users that they’d have to pay $5.99 to keep their personal info private—OR they could post the message in their status bar and retain their privacy at no cost. But Facebook doesn’t charge to use its services and never will. If you see a post suggesting otherwise, it’s false.
Your personal info is protected. You always have the ability (again, at no cost!) to control your privacy settings yourself. Facebook is also very clear about how it protects your personal information, and how you can help.
Facebook will never use the status bar as a way to opt in or out of a special fee. Facebook does charge for things outside its basic services--like running an ad for your business--but has a very clear billing center for that. Your status bar is for sharing your own messages with your own friends, not for communicating with Facebook.
Facebook will never send an email asking for your account password, social security or tax id number, or your full credit card number. If you're getting a message like this, it may be something called "phishing," (nope, not that kind of fishing!) which means an attempt by a fraudster to acquire sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. If you get a message like this, don't click on anything; the safest thing to do is close your browser and start fresh.
You are responsible for what you post--so anytime you see something on social media that you’re tempted to share, investigate before you do. To verify a rumor you’ve come across, highlight part of the suspicious text in your browser, right click, and select "Search." If it’s a known scam going around, something will come right up that lets you know it’s false. Doing so isn't just smart; it's good manners! If more people did two minutes of research before they shared these types of posts, there would be a lot less of these annoying pranks floating around in the first place.
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