Better Business Bureau: Avoiding Facebook scams

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-Millions of people log onto Facebook every day to stay connected with family and friends. But do you know who else is online? Scam artists are trying to rob you of your hard earned money and the better business bureau has a warning today.

Chris Thetford from the Better Business Bureau shares some ways to protect yourself.

Chris says the scheme appears similar to others reported across the U.S. and Canada. Last month, a 76-year-old woman from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, lost more than $21,000 in an almost identical case. That woman, too, initially was contacted through Facebook by a thief who had stolen the identity of a friend.

In March, a woman from Toledo, Ohio, reported losing $9,000 in a Facebook lottery scheme after she was contacted by a thief posing as the woman`s cousin.

The bogus lottery is just one of many schemes directed at Facebook users and designed to steal personal information or money. Some of the most common include:

• Facebook romance schemes. Thieves ask for money after developing a romantic relationship with the victim.
• Privacy hoaxes. Thieves claiming to represent Facebook try to charge users to keep their pages private or their information secure.
• Phony Facebook quizzes. Thieves try to get users to click on fake quizzes or tests to hijack their computer or steal information.
The Task Force offers the following tips to help Facebook users avoid falling victim to thieves:
• Facebook does not sponsor a lottery. Anyone who tries to get you to pay any money in advance of receiving a prize is trying to steal your money.
• If you believe a friend`s Facebook identity may have been stolen, cease communications with him or her until you have investigated. Hackers have become adept at stealing Facebook identities and then using those identifies to convince others to give up money or personal information. If you have any reason to believe you may not be communicating with a friend or family member, verify the person`s identity by phone or email.
• Be cautious of clicking on unfamiliar sites and be particularly cautious about giving anyone any personal information through these sites.
• Be suspicious of anyone you do not know asking to 'friend' you on Facebook. Thieves often use this as a first step in gaining your trust in hopes of stealing money or personal information.
• If you receive a friend request from someone you know, first check to see if you're already friends with that person. If you recognize a page as a fake, you can report it at: https://www.facebook.com/help/174210519303259?ref=u2u
• Facebook says if an email or post looks strange, don`t click any links or open any attachments, and report it to the company. Emails can be forwarded to phish@fb.com. Learn how to report suspicious Facebook messages by going to: https://www.facebook.com/help/199655413426788/?ref=u2u To learn more about suspicious emails or notifications, visit the Facebook Help Center at: https://www.facebook.com/help/324203247669141/?ref=u2u

The Task Force is a coalition of local, state and federal government agencies and nonprofit business and consumer groups in Missouri and Illinois that work together to protect consumer and donor rights and guard against fraud.

The group has tackled predatory payday loan offers, tax scams, timeshare reselling fraud, credit repair and foreclosure scams, bogus sweepstakes, Internet sweetheart scams, home remodeling, air duct cleaning schemes and a variety of other issues.