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Don’t Be a Social Media Statistic

“I make money with google. i learned how here: ____.” If you were on Twitter last week, you probably saw that message, during another round of phishing scams. This time, the scam spread through DMs and tweets alike. “Phishing” occurs when a fraudulent operation poses as a legitimate Website or service to steal your personal information.

Everyone needs to be aware of what phishing is and what to expect. It can happen on any social networking site, which was proven last month on Facebook when viruses spread across the site like wild fire. In that scam, users were urged to update their information by clicking on a provided link which took them to a fake Facebook login page. Once they entered in their information, it was stolen and their accounts were hacked, spreading the virus even further.

A hacked account on Twitter or even Facebook can lead to account suspensions, or worse, you can be shut out of your account altogether. By falling victim to the scams, you can also unwillingly impact accounts of your friends, family or even your clients!

And, these attacks are increasing. According to Fortinet, a firewall systems provider, June 2009 had the “highest rate of phishing attacks to date” on the Web. It will be interesting to see what these rates look like at the end of year with the rise in social media use.

Here are some tips to stay safe in the new social media world:

  • Just because you get a Direct Message (or DM) on Twitter saying “Check out this cool Website” doesn’t mean you should. In fact, Twitter recently alerted its users that they had uncovered a phishing scam, where a link to a fake Twitter login page was sent through the direct message feature. The purpose of the scam was to steal user login and passwords.
  • Be wary of sites outside of Twitter that ask for your Twitter username and password. Although we all want to know our Twitter rank or might want to take a Twitter quiz, many people have had their accounts compromised by these sites.

  • Be aware of generic posts or messages similar to this: “Hey, did you read what this blog says about you? I think you should read it.” Or, “I saw your profile picture on this Website, you look great! Check it out.” These are sample messages which also included a link with a virus. DON’T CLICK!
  • Remember that third-party applications and quizzes are just that, third party. Most were not created by Facebook. Always read the fine print before adding them to your page or profile.

  • Use a different password for each site you use. This will save you a lot of trouble if one of your accounts is compromised.
  • When a link takes you to sign-in on a familiar site, always look at the URL to make sure that the site is legitimate and not a phishing clone. Phishers count on us not to double check links from our trusted friends, sources and sites.

Do you have any other tips to stay safe on social media?

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20 comments on “Don’t Be a Social Media Statistic
  1. Great comments.
    I received several of the phishing offers over the past two or three weeks. As with anything internet, vigilence and common sense must prevail!
    Steve Jameson
    Santa Rosa, CA

  2. Thanks for this. I’m pretty new to FB and was suprised when I got a request to update my info. Fortunately I looked closely and saw it was sent to an old email address that still happens to be forwarded to me…one that I didn’t use on Facebook. Whew :)

  3. Lynda Kellems says:

    Thank you for this information. I was on facebook looking at some pictures on a friends site and some how, I now have a trojan loop. I am not sure how much, but it will cost me to repair it. This was scary and I wasn’t sure how it happened. Now I know.
    Thanks so much!!!!

  4. Carol Presley says:

    Thank you, this is very helpful. As I venture into the world of FB and Twitter, I will be very careful and know what to watch for. This helps me have some guidelines.

  5. Lisa P says:

    How could you get a virus by looking at pictures of friends? What do I need to look at in the URL do make sure it is a trusted site? I’m hope other people have some of the same questions as me; I thought I was more aware of scams but I’m obviously not.

  6. Amber Presley, PR and Social Media Manager says:

    Lisa, It isn’t from actually looking at pictures, but from links. A great example is in this article from Mashable: Mashable is quick to alert people to scams, so I would suggest following them on Twitter or checking their site often.

    Usually, if I want to make sure I am going to a trusted site that I login to (banks, Facebook, email etc), I type in the Website address in my URL/address bar myself instead of following a link.

    Hope that helps!

  7. Lisa P says:

    Thank you….I am teaching a class this Thursday on FB to other Agents in my office. We are all beginners and I want to be able to give them useful information. If you have any other basic info that would help us get started I would deeply appreciate it.

  8. Amber Presley, PR and Social Media Manager says:

    Lisa, Are you a KW agent? If so, we have created a social media page on the intranet (go to, then the marketing tab) which includes short how-to articles, a guide for Facebook, a quick start guide for Twitter, as well as KW-branded Twitter backgrounds to download.

    If you are not an agent, let me know and I will pull some links to sites I find helpful! We are all beginners at some point, and I find I am always learning. Good luck!

  9. george manning& trudee says:

    thanks for the invite i will be there

  10. jpaul says:

    I’m not sure how to use this site is there instructions somewhere that I’m missing?

  11. Dave Conord says:

    Great job (again!) on keeping KW Associates informed and productive. Posts like this are easy to share and benefit my entire market center – thanks!!

  12. It is helpful to know what a “real” notification looks like from the different services. This is what Facebook sends when a friend really does tag you in a photo or post “Deborah tagged a photo of you in the album “Mobile Uploads”.

    They don’t send messages like “hey I saw a picture of you on..”. Also, on Facebook if you want to see if someone has really tagged you, you can always go to your profile and the notification should be there.

    The one thing I ALWAYS do if I get sent a notification from my bank or anywhere else is to click my email program closed then manually type in the url (website address). I foiled a phishing scheme about my Bank of America account that way. Someone sent me a message requesting all my information and upon logging in I found out it was a lie. Just be very wary and always go to the source!

  13. Amber Presley, PR and Social Media Manager says:

    Realtor Marketing – Those are great points!

    jpaul – Are you talking about the KW Blog, or a specific social media site?

  14. I am still receiving the, “Is that you in this video” wall posts on my Facebook. Knowing they are scams for virus’, I have taken it upon myself to send my friends emails letting them know their account has been hacked and to change thier password. We can all help eachother!

  15. RM is quite correct, don’t ever click on “links” to anything that you can easily type in the or what ever your financial/paypal/etc websites are!

    If you even remotely unsure about a link, copy and paste it into google and if it is suspicious, someone in IT security has likely posted something about it on the web.

    I have taught a FB class in at least 8 MCs and have 42K in GCI from FB this year, about to write an offer on an 850K house with clients via FB. The big picture about FB is it is replacing email for a lot of people in their sphere. If you are going to do it for business, you must do it daily. People expect instantaneous response to questions and just like email, if you snooze, you lose.

    And please don’t play any of the games like Farmville or Mafia wars if you are going to use it for lead generation.

    Do post interesting articles, such as this one on downsizing homes in the WSJ:


  16. Darryl Love says:

    These have been great tips. Additionally, I try to remember to click on “Details” (at least on gmail pages), which might reveal something about the sender that will ring a bell.

    I use the on-screen keyboard at lot for loggin in to accounts where security is more of a concern; that is, bank accounts, paypal, etc. I’m not sure if all operating systems have an on-screen keyboard; MS does. I saved it to my desktop. Anyway, the keystroks don’t register–so I’m told–as they do on the typical keyboard.

  17. Brodt says:

    It is so true that building relations in your business is the first thing you need to establish to see success. Some people do that by sharing things for free, some do that by creating highly unique content and some do that by getting personal. I am trying to combine all three and in the long term I’m sure this will work.

  18. Porter says:

    Great and timely post! It seems that there are new scams on social media sites every week-these are helpful for anyone with an online presence.

  19. Amber Presley, PR and Social Media Manager says:

    Thanks everyone for your feedback!

    Eric-I agree, since more people are utilizing social sites (sometimes even instead of email), it is a good reminder to treat our security on these sites with as much caution as we do financial sites. It almost seems that we feel safe because we have already logged in-and we are not.

    I recently got a spam/scam DM on Twitter from a friend-she didn’t even know it was sent. So, the big lesson I learned was to make sure to let my friends/followers know if I get something from them-if it seems like a phishing scam.

    I use to shorten my longer links-it looks like they are trying to help out to battle these scams: Hopefully all of the sites will be able to address these issues soon.

    In the meantime, I recommend following Mashable (@mashable) and Spam Watch (@spam) on Twitter, or subscribing to their RSS feed for news on scams.

  20. Amber Presley, PR and Social Media Manager says:

    I wanted to share a new article on the same topic from the New York Times:

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