Date Posted
16th Jun 2013

Facebook scamming and identity theft is rampant in New Zealand

Does there need to be a huge security breach on Facebook before people will be careful?

Do millions of dollars in identity-theft crimes need to show in the news before Facebook makes changes?

Do users need to question the wisdom of placing so much trust in Facebook privacy and security?

With more than 1.2 billion users - the world's largest collection of consumer ‘likes’ and dislikes in the global marketplace - Facebook is going to continue strip mining that treasure trove of data. But all signs point to a mining disaster.

New Zealand Herald reports today that a cleaver scammer has stolen Facebook identities in New Zealand during this week!

READ: “Facebook user finds her friends have acted on messages from fraudster”

" media was a "high-trust environment" so scammers who won over a Facebook user's friends could be more effective - and damaging - than old-style spammers..."

Don't let your life get stolen on Facebook

How scamming works:

Scammers are imposters, pretenders, cheats, frauds who set up a Facebook account using your name with one letter spelled incorrectly (or something like that).

Then they invite your friends to become the imposter’s friends, and people in a hurry don’t notice the spelling error and accept friendship with this fraud.

This friendship is then abused with slick offers and Facebook posts showing “I won $95,000 – click here to win too!” Or maybe they will create a sob story and ask for financial help that you ‘genuinely’ need from your friends - Yeah right!


Also - watch out for three popular Facebook scams:

1. Click here to change tour Facebook colour (You cant do this on Facebook!)

2. Click to see who is viewing your Facebook profile (You cant do this on Facebook either!)

3. View your free gift card (Nothing is free! They want your clicks, your information, your friends!)

 The rule of thumb is: if it looks too good to be true – then it is too good to be true!

Be careful.


Here are 10 actions that will help minimize the damage of identity theft:

1.Don't use your Facebook password anywhere else.

That makes it way too easy for the bad guys. Long unique passwords are essential. Even sign in with your password each time rather than clicking ‘remember me’ – this takes time but helps ensure your on-line safety.

2.Lie about your age

. While it's friendly and fun to get birthday greetings on your Facebook wall, your date of birth is a key piece of information needed to steal your identity. At least post the wrong birth year or leave the year blank.

3.Stop geo-tagging your photos

Geo-tagging includes the latitude and longitude where a picture was taken, i.e., home. If you right-click on a photo you can find this information under "properties." If you are using an Android, iPhone or iPad, look under "Settings," go to "Privacy" then "Location Services" to turn off location services. You can turn off the location settings for all applications or just for individual applications, like the camera. Even if you turn this feature off on your camera or smartphone, all photos you have already taken will contain the information. So look at the ‘properties’ for each photo, and don’t use the photo on-line if it has location details.

4.How much of a specific type of information are you sharing?

Don’t overdo the photo tags or check-ins from the same place (school, restaurant, gym etc.), as Facebook stalkers may use it to figure out your daily schedule or build up an accurate profile on you.

5.Less is more (for peace of mind).

While we all have pride in the things we have done and the places we have visited or lived, the more you tell the world, the more likely that information will be available for an identity thief. Remove posts from your timeline that provide personally identifiable information.

6.Don't store your credit card information on-line.

Facebook has several services that require a credit card. Buyers beware.

7.The cost of on-line freebies could be your on-line identity.

Curiosity along with impulsive action is dangerous. They have been exploiting them both for some time now, by “spreading” free wins and catchy content on-line almost on a daily basis. As it turns out, to get hold of the win or see the alluring video/picture/piece of news, you have to first fill in an online survey. This phony survey aims to collect your personal details and put your internet security at risk. Needless to say, after completing the survey, you don’t get the promised gift, or the video/news/image will be a real disappointment. Don’t click “Win now!” offers. Develop self-control.

8. Have some firm Facebook boundaries

. When Facebook asks you where your photo was taken, keep it to yourself. There is no reason to post a series of pictures that tell a potential thief not only where your house is of how to get there and when is the best time to take all your stuff. Don't brag about new cars, especially if your photos show where you keep the keys in your kitchen cupboard. And set your privacy controls so only people you know personally can see stuff that could be used to create a new credit card account or the like.

9.If you have been scammed, change your name

. If you modify your name just a little, or use a nickname, life will be easier for you after the inevitable hack. Or open more than one account. Yes, it violates Facebook's terms and conditions, but 86 million accounts already do it. And don't be scared by the argument that being anonymous leads to crime: "You can do bad things anonymously, and you can do bad things using your name."

10. If you have been hacked, deactivate your account.

Good advice comes from the movie “The Karate Kid” when Mr Miyagi told Danielson, "Remember, best block: no be there." Your Facebook profile can't get hacked if you don't have an account!

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