Clickbait scams use well-known names or events from the news to trick consumers into clicking on links that can download malicious viruses or other malware to computers. They may ask consumers to provide sensitive personal information before they allow viewing of a video or access to their site.
Recent events like Robin Williams’ suicide, the beheading of American journalists in the Middle East and domestic violence incidents have spawned a new round of “clickbait” scams on social media like Facebook and Twitter, Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
Clickbait scams use well-known names or events from the news to trick consumers into clicking on links that can download malicious viruses or other malware to computers. They may ask consumers to provide sensitive personal information before they allow viewing of a video or access to their site. In some cases, they disguise their sites to look like Facebook or another familiar site. The videos usually are fake.
Either way, if you click or provide the scammer with personal information, you could be opening yourself to identity theft or a compromised computer.
“The popularity of online videos and sensational news events is irresistible to scammers,” said Michelle Corey, BBB President and CEO. “When news breaks out, you can be sure that scammers will be devising new schemes to trick consumers into divulging personal information or clicking links that can load malware onto their computers.
“Before you click on a social media link or play a video, make sure that you trust the source,” Corey said. “If friends are ‘liking’ the video, check with them before you click to be sure that they aren’t also the victims of a scam.”
Con artists exploit tragedies in these ways:
- Impersonating victims or family members on social media.
- Selling memorabilia, often promising that some or all of the proceeds will go to charity.
- Posting teasers for sensational video footage or photos.
BBB offers the following tips to protect yourself from social media scams:
- Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” footage. If it sounds too outlandish to be true, it is probably a scam.
- Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.
- Confirm before you trust your “friends” online. It might not actually be your friends who are “liking” or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked and scammers could be using another tactic called “clickjacking.” Clickjacking is a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking on social media links that you would not usually click on.
- Report scam posts on Facebook by following these instructions.
- Report malware or spam on Twitter by following these instructions.
Consumers are urged to contact BBB at (314) 645-3300 or www.bbb.org for a BBB Business Review before doing business with any company or charity.