Connecticut BBB: Social media increasingly used by criminals to phish

Connecticut Better Business Bureau warns that social media are increasingly being used to deceive users into giving up personal information. This is called “farcing,” and experts say it is spreading exponentially because of the sort of information we share online and how we expose it.

Farcing involves a criminal creating a phony social media profile. If you “friend” the individual, your friends will think the person is a legitimate friend of yours. Then they and all of their friends are vulnerable, as are friends of your friends. One farcing attack against an individual can lead to multiple problems for dozens of others.

So what are they after? It isn’t difficult for the criminals to learn a great deal about you and your friends through this technique, and the quality of information they can glean depends on what we put in our social media profiles. This includes your name, academic history, hometown, employment record, the names of relatives and pets, and more. With this information they can find out your telephone number, home address, email address and even your salary. This data can subsequently be used to steal your identity as well as your friends’ identities and all of their friends too.

Farcing had shown up on platforms including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus.

Connecticut Better Business Bureau says the good news is that it is easy to protect yourself by being very selective about who you “friend” on social media, tightening your privacy settings to limit exposure of your profiles, and carefully evaluating the kind of information you share online.

Farcing will likely not go away anytime soon, especially given the expanding role of the Internet and social media in our lives.

To find additional tips about safe computing, current scams and helpful tips visit bbb.org/Connecticut.

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