We outline 5 compelling reasons why Facebook users should be careful when accepting friend requests and why you should never accept strangers invitations.
Okay, so whilst accepting someone on Facebook isn’t quite enough to get your computer “hacked”, (like so many different rumours claim) it certainly isn’t advised. We outline 5 reasons why you really shouldn’t be adding strangers on sites like Facebook.
Accepting strangers increases the risk of identity theft and leaked personal information.
Identity theft is the processes involved in collecting sufficient personal information from a victim in order for a scammer to take on the identity of the victim. Because of the anonymous nature of the Internet, most forms of identity theft and fraud now take place online.
Sometimes a scammer can initiate a scam that will immediately allow them to commit identity theft, and sometimes a scammer will gradually accumulate pieces of seemingly innocuous personal information in order to commit identity theft.
Accepting strangers into your Facebook life gives them access to such personal information. Even seemingly innocuous information like friends names, pet names, holiday plans and likes and dislikes can be compiled to help a scammer commit identity theft.
And of course you can potentially give away more sensitive information, like your photos, phone number and address. Even this by itself would allow a scammer to create a duplicate Facebook account in what is known as a Facebook cloning scam, which can then be used to target your Facebook friends.
Ensuring that you trust those in your social media circles and that your privacy settings are appropriately set dramatically reduces your chances of being an identity theft victim.
Accepting strangers increases the risk of spammy, malicious links
It’s no secret that sites like Facebook are exploited by scammers who flood the site with spammy links that can lead to a number of harmful scams.
Befriending strangers on Facebook can put you at risk because if the stranger happens to be a scammer, they can post links on your timeline or send messages to your Facebook Messages inbox or Chat window.
Yes it still requires a user to click on them for the scam to take effect, but having these links sent straight to a user increases the chances of fooling the user into clicking a spam link and falling for a scam.
Popular spammy link scams on Facebook include malware scams and Facebook survey scams.
Accepting strangers puts vulnerable people at risk to serious crime
All sorts of criminals use Facebook, and the media have often reported on how underage users have been lured or tricked into dangerous meetings, where all sorts of crimes can be committed, including sex crimes and robbery. It also can lead to crimes such as coercion and blackmail.
Old age or mentally disadvantaged users make up another vulnerable demographic on Facebook, and scammers will use various advance fee scams to trick these people into handing over large sums of cash with the false promise of a much larger pay-out.
Romantic scams can also prey on various social media users, where a victim is tricked into sending over money to a scammer under the false assertion that they are in some sort of relationship.
And accepting strangers puts almost anyone at risk to crimes such as stalking and harassment.
Accepting strangers puts your house at risk
Would you tell a stranger when your house is going to be empty? May be you’re off on holiday, or a work trip away. Or maybe you’re just away all day. All this information is often published on Facebook, which is fine if it is only seen by your friends, who you trust.
But if you’re also broadcasting that information to lurking friends who are really strangers, then it might not be such a good idea. One misguided post about an upcoming holiday may give a criminal on your friends list the perfect date to go ransack your house.
Accepting strangers puts your friends at risk
In the world of social media, mutual friends equals trust. If someone send you an invitation to be their friend, then mutual friends suggests the person can be trusted.
So if you accept a stranger and that stranger goes on to add your other friends, those friends may accept the invitation under the assertion that the stranger knows you.
This puts your friends at risk to the same types of scams we describe above.
Always be careful when accepting people on Facebook. Never accept strangers, and always ensure friend requests from people you know are genuine.
Related article –
4 common scams that start from a Facebook friend request.