Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

After Royal Baby, Social Media Scams Are Born

With the exciting news of the royal baby and the worldwide buzz of events leading up to the birth, George Alexander Louis was not all that was born -- social media scams were as well.

According to the Better Business Bureau, users should beware of royal baby scams online, especially on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, these scams are not limited to just those sites, and they can just as easily be circulated through email.

How does the scams work, exactly? If you are browsing your feed on a social media site, for example, and you see that one of your friends links to or has liked an "exclusive" video of the new royal baby, you might be tempted to then click on it.

After clicking, however, you won't be led to the advertised footage, but instead a third-party website that may request that you update your video player by clicking first on another link.

After you click on that link, the website may start automatically downloading a virus or software onto your computer. This can then lead to your banking and other personal information being scanned and stolen from you.

What can you do to protect yourself from being scammed? Here are a few tips:

  • Don't trust sources you don't recognize. If you see an ad for a link on the side of your Facebook page advertising some "exclusive" video, it's probably too good to be true. Always be wary of especially tempting bait, like exclusive material, coming from sources you don't know personally.
  • Even if the links come from trusted friends and family, err on the side of caution. Is this friend or family member the type of person to usually post these "exclusive" links? If not, it's better to be safe than sorry. Ask your friend or loved one directly first if their link is legitimate or not before you click it.
  • Find out what the actual URL is. If you can, try hovering over the link, or right-clicking on it to find out the actual destination that you'll be taken to. If it's a trusted source (a reliable news site, for example), then it's probably OK to click it. If it looks at all suspect, don't.
  • In general, comb your computer for viruses. Make sure that you take the usual precautionary measures even if there isn't a new member of the royal family on its way (or, in this case, has arrived already). This includes acts like frequently updating your passwords and regularly running virus scans on your computer to keep the material and protective measures fresh.

To learn more about keeping yourself safe on the Internet, check out FindLaw's comprehensive section on Online Scams.

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