How to spot and dodge a Facebook scam

How to spot and dodge a Facebook scam

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

If you’re a regular Facebook user, you should be aware of the different methods that scammers use to steal peoples’ details. If you fall victim to a Facebook scam, you could risk having your personal and financial details stolen.


Currently on Facebook, there’s little regulation for ads that appear on your newsfeed. This means that a good percentage of these could be scams or fraudulent activity. There are several different ways that a hacker could camouflage their intent on Facebook.  

Phishing 

One of the most common scams that can occur through Facebook is ‘phishing’. This is a form of online fraud where an attacker attempts to steal sensitive data, such as your log in details. 

Most commonly, you may receive an official looking email from Facebook itself that claims: 

  • your account is locked, and you need to click a link or provide log in details to get back in  
  • you've received a notification about a tagged picture, video, event or friend request - this can be genuine but not always  
  • your account is going to be removed or deleted if you don’t take a certain action. 

These emails often can appear very official, as though they’re from Facebook itselfIf you receive an email like this, the first thing to be mindful of is to never click any links or enter your log in details. If you do this, you may be giving away your personal information and you could risk other accounts that use the same credentials being hacked as well.  

You should look out for: 

  • spelling errors or poor grammar. If there are any errors like this then you should report the email and delete it 
  • the email address. It can often appear as though it’s from ‘Facebook’ but it's not always the case. If you hover over the name of the sender to reveal the full email address, you’ll be able to see if it’s from an official address 
  • emails that ask you for your password or send you a new password as an attachmentFacebook will never do this.   

If you receive an email like this, you should report it as phishing and delete it immediately.  

Fake ads for services and products  

Another way you could be scammed on Facebook is through fake services and products. 

If you’re being tempted by a Facebook ad, you should: 

  • do an extra search online – do they have any official business pages or social media channels? If they have little to no online presence you should avoid them 
  • check if they’re verified. Most verified businesses will have a ‘blue tick’ on their social media pages to show users they are legitimate 
  • ask yourself, does the ad sound too good to be true? Common hooks such as ‘miracle diet pills’ and ‘earning X amount of money from home’ are often scams and you shouldn’t click into them 
  • look for more contact details – is there an address for a head office or a contact telephone number? If they don’t have any other credentials to verify themselves, then it’s likely they don’t exist. 

Winning competitions  

Something else you should be wary of when it comes to Facebook is competitions or sweepstakes. You should be wary if:  

  • they contact you to tell you you’ve won something, and you don’t even remember entering the competition  
  • they ask you to deposit money in order to claim your prize – this is a huge red flag and you should completely avoid sending anyone money that has messaged you out of the blue 
  • they don’t have an official announcement on any of their pages for previous competition winners - this often happens when the ‘vendor’ is imitating a well-known company  
  • they’re asking you to ‘click a link’ to claim your prize - this could lead to your details being stolen or inadvertently downloading malware onto your device. 

The bottom line... 

Ultimately, some of these things can be easily missed and it’s common to have something that appears very genuine looking land in your inbox from time to time. The most important things you can do include: 

  • avoid clicking on links in your emails that you’re not sure of 
  • use a different password for each account you have  
  • report any suspicious activity to Facebook  
  • always keep your personal info private and be selective about what you share online 

If you accidentally click on a link, then change your password immediately and do the same for any other accounts you have that use the same password.  

You can read more about how to stay safe and protect yourself from scams here.    

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

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How to spot and dodge a Facebook scam How to spot and dodge a Facebook scam