Millions of young people use Facebook every day to chat with friends and play games, but hackers are also using it to scam them out of their personal information.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the latest scam to hit the social networking website involves outrageous claims about McDonald's having to shut down, and asking that consumer click to another page to find out why. The link that pops up is a normal Facebook "fan" page, but contains potentially dangerous links on it.
A report in the Salisbury (North Carolina) Post said that if someone clicks on that link, they are asked to "like" the page, and then fill out a survey. The survey asks for personal information that should not be given out on the internet, and the page it's on could infect the computer with spyware, malware and viruses that are designed to steal personal information and passwords.
"Phishing scams are effective because they have a sensational hook disguised as a link that promises insider information," BBB President Tom Bartholomy told the paper. "The reason scammers are targeting Facebook is simple; the website has 500 million users. It is literally one of the biggest ponds on the internet in which to phish."
The paper said that the Better Business Bureau encourages parents to teach their children about online scams and identity theft so that they can better protect themselves against potential threats. While young people may be extremely aware of how to use computers, they may not know just how present the threat of identity theft is online.
The paper also advises that consumers not click on suspicious links that promise inside or secret information, even if it comes from a Facebook friend. More often than not these pages are run by people trying to mine information and can lead to consumers being targeted by phishing scams.
The report said it's also important for consumers to not give out any personal information of any kind online unless they are absolutely sure that the recipient is a secure site, and they know what the information will be used for. Often, addresses for secure sites will begin with "https" rather than the simple "http." Secure sites also typically feature a graphic of a padlock in the screen's lower right corner.