TAMPA, Fla. — A lot of folks are getting odd friend requests on Facebook. People from all over the world, who you don’t know, are asking to be your friend. A University of South Florida professor says that those “friends” want access to your personal information and might be trying to steal your identity and your money.
Information systems professor Grandon Gill says that there may be no precise answer to why strangers are sending you friend requests. But, you should be cautious.
“For example, if there happens to be someone from the military in these networks, they might be able to start to pick up information from their profile that would identify for example who they are, where they are.” Gill tells WTSP-TV.
Those friend requests may also be part of a scam to get your money. The Better Business Bureau reports that friend requests are a good way for someone to access your personal information. If you add them as a friend they can start messaging you.
“Facebook is an easy way for scammers to reach networks of people, and in this case, under the guise of someone they trust. If you happen to add a scammer, they have access to information that could lead to identity theft or other fraudulent activity. In this case, it seems like the “fake friend” was after money (aren’t they all, really?) through a loan scam.”
Those “Friends” may also be looking to steal your identity.
The BBB offers these tips:
- Always double check friend requests: Don’t just automatically click “accept” for new requests. Take a few moments to look over the profile and verify that account is a real person, not a scam. Scan your list of current Friends to see if any show up twice (the newer account is going to be the scam one).
- Don’t blindly trust friends’ recommendations: Just because a link, video, or other information is shared by a friend doesn’t mean that it’s safe to click. It could be a fake account, a hacker, or mean that your friend hasn’t done his or her research.
- Watch for poor grammar: Scam Facebook posts are often riddled with typos and poor English.
- Alert your friends: If your Facebook friend suddenly starts posting links to work-at-home schemes or scandalous celebrity videos, tell him or her directly about the suspicious activity. Otherwise, they may never know that their account has been impersonated.
- Report fake accounts to Facebook: Facebook does not allow accounts that are pretending to be someone else. Here are instructions on reporting them.