As online and app messaging become common ways to communicate, scammers have taken notice. According to DMR’s recent business stats, Facebook Messenger had 1.3 billion users as of 2017. With more and more people using Facebook Messenger daily, it is likely that you will encounter a scammer at one point or another.
Facebook Messenger scammers disguise themselves as your trusted friends and family. Do you think that you’ve been contacted by a scammer on Facebook or worry that you might be in the future? Find out how the Facebook Messenger platform is used to trick people into giving away their personal, private information.
Often, people don’t even realize they were scammed until it is too late and their financial information is jeopardized, or their identity is stolen. Don’t let this happen to you and follow the steps below.
What is Facebook Messenger?
Facebook Messenger is a messaging app developed by Facebook. You can use it in conjunction with your Facebook account, but it can also be downloaded as a separate messaging app.
If you download Facebook Messenger without having a Facebook account, you can sign up with your phone number and name. On Messenger users can use send secret messages, start group chats, share conversation and photographs, or talk by video phone chat.
How Does the Facebook Messenger Scam Work?
These occur when a scammer sends a message via Messenger, to get money or your private information and financial data. Usually, scams progress like this:
You receive a message or invite from someone you know online or an invite to connect with someone new on Messenger.
They tell you that they won money, need a loan, have a grant or special offer, etc. and advise you how to help or gain the same funds they have.
They may send you a link which will phish your information once you access it or download malware onto your computer or device. Other times, they will ask you to call a phone number or have someone call you. That person is “in” on the scam and, though believable, will take your private and credit card information and use it fraudulently or even sell it.
How did this happen?
Unfortunately, the person who sent the original message is a scammer with a fake account or someone who hacked into one of your friend’s accounts. This scam is efficient, as the scammer is preying on your trust and hoping you trust your friend’s message, without question!
Some spammers hack real accounts, while others create fake accounts using people’s duplicate names and photos. How are you at risk of being hacked? Often hacks occur through shared computers or networks.
When scammers want to create completely fake accounts, they steal images from Google and invent a name and identity. It is called catfishing, and the scammer uses their false identity to get you to trust/add them online.
How to Report Facebook Messenger Scams
Facebook wants a good reputation and scammers aren’t a part of that! If you believe someone is trying to scam you via Messenger, take the following steps.
If the person who messaged you is using a (suspected) made-up profile:
- Click on the profile image and name of whoever wrote you a message.
- Select “Block or Report” and follow the prompts. You can block messages and block the individual on Facebook.
- Select “Something’s Wrong” to report their account for harassment, self-injury risk, sharing inappropriate things, pretending to be someone else, hate speech, unauthorized sales, or other” and follow all prompts after your selection.
If you know the person who messaged you and believed they were hacked:
- Use the “pretending to be someone else” selection.
- Contact your friend outside of messenger or tell someone who knows them.
If you lost funds or are worried about identity theft:
- Contact your bank and credit card companies to report the scam and financial loss.
- Change your online passwords.
- Check your credit report and bank/credit statements.
- Contact the F.B.I. about computer or app scams:
How to Protect Yourself from Facebook Messenger Scams
- Never trust any financial offers that come through Facebook Messenger.
- Ask questions to verify your friend’s identity if they send you anything surprising. Call them outside of Messenger, on your cell phone, and see what they say about the messages. Even if they verify it was them, they might still be trying to scam you.
- Shred your financial data and private documents.
- Beware of shared computers, hotspots, or public WiFi.
- Encrypt your information online.
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