Identity theft has been around long before the internet. However, in the ever-evolving landscape of online threats, phishing scams have become increasingly sophisticated by targeting social media users on a wide range of platforms. One particularly alarming trend revolves around Facebook. Scammers attempt to impersonate official Facebook (Meta) sources to trick users into believing that their profiles are at risk of being deactivated. They use scare tactics and buzzwords such as “deleted”, “disabled”, or “restricted” and usually claim some sort of alleged copyright or terms of service violation. Typically, these notifications will be sent to the Facebook Business Page Account. However, sometimes it can be sent in the form of an email or text message.
So, what can you do if you receive a message threatening your account? Here are a few simple steps to guide you through the process:
#1: Take a Breath
The first rule of thumb is to remain calm and breathe when you are met with alarming or threatening messages. Phishing scams are notorious for relying on fear tactics and a false sense of urgency in an attempt to manipulate users into taking fast action. By taking a moment to breathe deeply, you give yourself a few seconds to reflect on the situation with clarity. This also enables you to assess this incident more objectively instead of from a place of reactivity.
Maintaining composure when faced with a potential threat is crucial. Phishing scammers are skilled manipulators who purposefully use language intended to provoke a sense of anxiety. It’s important to remember that legitimate communications from Facebook will most likely not threaten you with immediate action unless there have been prior warnings.
#3: Don’t Click Anything
Most phishing scams will include a link in the message. DO NOT click on the link for any reason. This cannot be stressed enough. These fake links are known as bait. Scammers use these links to mimic the Facebook platform and reel you into their trap. The goal is to steal your login credentials, which they will have access to after you click on the link and try to sign in.
Phishing Scam Consequences
When it comes to account violations, it is vital to remember that Facebook will never communicate with you in this type of manner. If you are confused about a message regarding the status of your account, always go directly to the source to log in at www.facebook.com. Here, you can check your notifications to confirm the legitimacy of any claims made in the threatening message.
Severe consequences can follow swiftly once a phishing link has been clicked on. The pages that these links lead to can be deceptively convincing. The page will prompt you to enter your login credentials. Once the scammers have your information, they can quickly change your password, manipulate the Two-Factor Authentication settings, and take complete control over your account.
Once this is done, the repercussions can be dire. The scammers will have access to your Facebook Account, Business Pages, and Ad Account – which most likely has your credit card information for billing purposes. Scammers can even use your Ad Account and credit card to promote their scam to a broader audience. Meanwhile, regaining control of your account can be challenging, to say the least. Most users never regain control and end up having to start new accounts.
To prevent yourself from falling prey to phishing scams on Facebook, please take a moment to watch the following video. Through a review of phishing scams, you will learn how to recognize them and what steps to take to report or shut down the fake accounts that are responsible for them.
Always remember to be vigilant and stay informed. You can prevent your information from falling into the hands of cybercriminals and protect your online presence by staying a step ahead of phishing scams. Awareness, caution, and the ability to recognize the red flags are the keys to social media safety.