Beware of Facebook ‘invitation’ scams

By Anna Valmero, loQal.ph

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA— Users of popular social networking website Facebook should be wary of bogus event “invitations”, according to security firm Sophos.

If you clicked “Yes” to attend a recent Facebook event called "Who blocked you from his friend list?", chances are you have been a victim of spammers who sold your online information.

Over 165,000 people have been tricked into attending the said event with some 10.3 million users still debating whether to respond or not, and the event is only one in a million of fake events organized to mine data from online profiles, according to Sophos.

"These spammed-out event invitations and links to survey scams are one of the biggest nuisances on Facebook right now, impacting millions of users daily," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

Simply put, social networking sites are actually tools for data mining for companies.

After viewing the invite page, unwary users are lured to click the "More Info" section of the events summary. Unknown to users, scammers embed instructions into this section, leading unsuspecting users into visiting web pages for online surveys or competitions, said Sophos.

Through the surveys, scammers can earn commission when a user gives out personal information. Sometimes, users are asked for their cellphone number, which is then signed up to an expensive service.

The reminder against bogus online events comes timely after the "public event" was shared online by thousands of Facebook users, including those in the Philippines.

According to Facebook user tracker Checkfacebook.com, the Philippines is the fifth country with the most number of Facebook users at 22.65 million as of April 2011, up two places from seventh place in August 2010.

That means the number of Filipino users is equivalent to 3.6 percent of total 629 million accounts in Facebook, according to the site tracker.

"It would be great if Facebook was being more proactive in shutting down these obviously bogus events, as currently it's far too easy for the scammers to fill their pockets through schemes like this," said Cluley.

For now, he said online users have to be proactive and should never accept unsolicited invitations from suspicious events and always think twice before clicking on links received via Facebook.

Aside from bogus events, recent Facebook scams include solicitations from grandparents who received a call from someone claiming to be a long-lost grandchild, according to online magazine Security News Daily.

Personal information including a person's full name, address, complete date of birth and contact details including email ad mobile number makes a person vulnerable to attacks "so there should be online vigilance," said Sonnie Santos, blogger of Web Safety Philippines that was named best advocacy blog in 2010

On a blog post, Santos wrote that 90 percent of the 30 million Filipino online users use social networking sites like Facebook. Some 19 percent of users are under 13-years-old, which makes it easier for scammers to get personal data.

"In the end, there is no privacy on the Internet but we believed that by educating Filipinos, we will prevent cyber harassment and cyber crimes... Incidents of stealing identity, cyber bullying, cyber boso, cyber stalking and other cyber crimes will be minimized," said Santos.

Santos gave these simple tips to avoid bogus event invites:

1. Accept friend requests and event invites only from people whom you know personally.

2. Avoid clicking buttons or filling up surveys with personal information about an event.

3. Do not post your email or mobile number on your public Facebook profile. This goes for personal information such as full birth date or family relations. Or make this profile information only available only to friends or a limited number of people.

4. Do not click “Yes” or “Cancel” on pop-ups, instead click the close button.

5. Facebook tracks your online web searches so clear your cache or log off at Facebook to prevent data mining.

Be cautious of what you put online such as places of vacation.

***

loQal.ph is a website owned and operated by Filquest Media Concepts, Inc. It works under the principle of giving voice to the voiceless, empowering Filipinos and uplifting the image of the Philippines by highlighting its unique culture. To do this, the loQal.ph team produces stories, video, photos and other multimedia content types to inspire and celebrate Filipino achievements, ideas, products and places.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Super typhoon expected to weaken before reaching Philippines
    Super typhoon expected to weaken before reaching Philippines

    HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — A super typhoon blamed for the deaths of at least four people on islands in the western Pacific Ocean has moved into the open sea and is expected to significantly weaken before reaching the Philippines later this weekend. …

  • Philippine leader says 'worst airport' now looking much better
    Philippine leader says 'worst airport' now looking much better

    President Benigno Aquino Wednesday hailed renovations to the Philippines' main international airport, expressing optimism it would soon shake off its ranking on one website as the world's worst airport. Almost a year after he personally apologised for the failure of air-conditioning at Terminal 1 of Manila's international airport, Aquino said the facility appeared to be completely different. "It is like I have entered a completely different airport," he told reporters as he inspected the …

  • Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon Avenue
    Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon Avenue

    Volkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, which is now the automotive row of Northern Metro Manila.At the Innauguration was Chief Operating Adviser Klaus Schadewald, Branch Manager Bob Anthony Palanca, Volkswagen Philippines: President and CEO John Philip Orbeta and General Manager Nemesio Solomon, Jr. This new showroom has the latest Volkswagen Interactive Showroom applications. ... …

  • The Race to Global Greatness - YGP6
    The Race to Global Greatness - YGP6

    Yamaha Motor Philippines (YMPH) recently held the first leg of the Yamaha Grand Prix 6 at the SM Sta. Rosa compound in Laguna. The racing categories for this year are the following: Automatic Inter-Club RaceUnderbone Inter-Club Race115 Superstock ATVega Force i SuperstockSniper 150 Open UB130 Open UBMio 125 MX i …

  • Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon AvenueVolkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, …
    Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon AvenueVolkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, …

    Volkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, which is now the automotive row of Northern Metro Manila.At the Innauguration was Chief Operating Adviser Klaus Schadewald, Branch Manager Bob Anthony Palanca, Volkswagen Philippines: President and CEO John Philip Orbeta and General Manager Nemesio Solomon, Jr. This new showroom has the latest Volkswagen Interactive Showroom applications. ... …

  • Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines
    Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines

    The Filipino Gran Turismo gamer just became eligible to become a Pro Race Car driver as Nissan Philippines Inc. launched its GT Academy here in the Philippines. The object is to find the best Grand Turismo players in both the online qualification process and participating in the live events after which they’ll compete with each other in National Finals to see who gets to attend the 3 month Race camp.  The winner gets to stay in the UK near Silverstone and will take part in UK national and club …

  • Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT
    Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT

    Sen. Sergio Osmeña III wants electricity to be exempted from value added tax under a proposed measure that will amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 and the Reformed VAT Law. He said the move aims to ease the burden of the public in paying high electricity rates in the country. “VAT on electricity is another burden on the already over-taxed shoulders of our people, especially those whose incomes are barely enough to cover their basic needs. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate …

  • No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday
    No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday

    No lotto tickets will be sold and no lotto draws made starting tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, up to Easter Sunday in observance of Holy Week. In a statement, Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, acting Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman and general manager, said the selling of lotto tickets and lotto draws will resume on April 6,  Monday. “We thank all Lotto players for your trust and confidence in the PCSO games, and we count on your continued support of our efforts to raise funds for …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options