Social media users are falling victim to a new type of scam with a new name: “farcing.” At its simplest, farcing is just another attempt by scammers to steal your identity. But the new twist on their tactic involves social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Cybercriminals who are involved in farcing are trying to access your personal information in order to steal from you. In addition to identity theft, farcing can be used for online bullying, organizational espionage, child pornography and burglary. Your Better Business Bureau advises consumers to familiarize themselves with the farcing trend and take steps to protect their identities from thieves.
How it works
A request to be “friended” appears on your Facebook page. Their name is unfamiliar but their picture seems ordinary and raises no alarms. An exploration of their profile information reveals nothing to make you suspicious. A quick check assures you that you already have several friends in common. You decide to click them into your circle of friends. Now they have access and can begin the process of mining your online information. Eventually they learn enough about you to steal your identity and access your credit and financial accounts.
The scammer misrepresented themselves with a stolen picture. The information in their Facebook profile was completely fictional. They made sure to friend several of your friends so you would be reassured by all the mutual online friendships.
They then can begin their thievery by finding out your birthdate, family members’ names, pets’ names, hobbies, workplaces and schools you attended. Information such as your places of worship, favorite sports teams and vacation destinations may be available to them. Some will even message you to request additional information, either about you or one of your friends.
There are steps that the proactive social media user should take in order to make it less likely they will fall victim to farcing scams.
• Update the privacy settings on your social media accounts so it is only seen by your friends.
• Remove any name from your friends list that you do not know personally.
• Use extreme caution when accepting a friend request.
• Limit the amount and type of personal information that you share online. Don’t advertise the fact that you are going out of town.
• Limit the information on your social profile. Don’t post your full birthdate, email address or mailing address.
• Ignore messages from those you do not know.
• Never use the same passwords for multiple online accounts.
• When setting up security questions, don’t use any information that someone could learn from your social media postings and profile.
The best way to thwart phishers and farcers is by limiting what you disclose to the public. That way you have a much better chance of keeping your identity and your financial security out of the hands of thieves. If you have questions or concerns about farcing scams on social media, contact your BBB by calling (800) 856-2417, or visit our website at bbbinc.org.