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BBB Tip of the Week: Cybersecurity and social media tips

Think about your Facebook page, or Instagram, or LinkedIn or other social media you find yourself on most often. Perhaps you don’t use social media, but do you have a spouse, child, relative or friend who does? There is a good chance you make an appearance on a social media site in some capacity.

Consider all the personal information contained on your profile page. Your name, city, perhaps place of work, alma mater, family members, interests, pictures, even phone numbers or addresses. This information is a fast-track to steal your identity or attempt to gain your trust through personal details.

As we continue to focus on cybersecurity during National Cyber Security Month, BBB encourages you to start with the following tips on social media:

Crank privacy settings up, and watch what you share. Go through each account and see what information is provided. Do you really need your address on Facebook? Go through settings on each account, keeping in mind you may have to click through a few screens. You can often place controls on what kind of advertisements you see and what activity is tracked.

Talk to your family and friends about what they share. Keep in mind that once it’s online, it’s out there forever, even if something is deleted. Discuss what photos and information are appropriate to share and what needs to be kept private.

Always double-check friend requests: Don’t just automatically click “accept” for new requests. Scammers like to impersonate friends to gain access to your page or to message victims and request money. Take a few moments to look over the profile and verify that account is a real person, not a scam. Scan your list of friends to see if any show up twice.

Watch for scam messages. BBB has received a number of reports of people getting a message, often from a supposed friend, who claims to have won money via a contest or grant. The “friend” then tries to convince the user to call and see if they’ve won too, and soon, the requests for money roll in. Never hesitate to verify with a friend offline if something seems suspicious.

Don’t blindly trust friends’ recommendations: Just because a friend shares a link, video or other information doesn’t mean that it’s safe to click. It could be a fake account, a hacker or mean that your friend hasn’t done his or her research. Unsafe links could lead to a phishing site or malware.

Alert your friends: If your friend suddenly starts posting links to work-at-home schemes or scandalous celebrity videos, tell him or her directly about the suspicious activity. Otherwise, they may never know that their account has been impersonated.

Report fake accounts and fraudulent posts: Most social media sites offer a “report” function.


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