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Learn to recognize and prevent Facebook Group scams.

Why should you be careful when browsing content in Facebook Groups?

Facebook groups are a great way to connect with people with similar interests in your community, or to stay in touch with old friends and acquaintances from great distances. Unfortunately, the fact that facebook groups have many people in them (and so users usually don’t personally know all the group members) and that so many posts are generated in groups have turned this nifty Facebook feature into a scammer’s playground. 

Recently, hackers have been joining Facebook groups under the guise of interest in the group’s subject of focus. Once the hacker’s access to the group is approved (a process that provides only a minimal barrier for most scammers), they make posts that appear to share information other group members might be interested in via a link to another site. When Facebook users click the link, their computer becomes vulnerable to cyberattacks from the hacker that posted the link in the group. 

Facebook group hacks are devastating because they prey on the human tendency to trust others within a group -- especially when that group is specifically formed on a common interest. Hackers manipulate that same sense of community that makes online groups so enjoyable for many users to get access to private and/or sensitive information. Furthermore, there are often so many posts and users in a Facebook group that a new user with little profile information doesn’t always stand out as suspicious. Finally, users browsing in Facebook groups are often there for the sense of comfort that comes with enjoying an interest with other community members, so they operate with their guard down, making them more vulnerable to social engineering attacks. 

How to recognize and prevent Facebook Group hacks

While difficult to detect, Facebook group scams can be prevented. Here are some tips for staying safe from cyberattacks while enjoying discourse with online communities:

  • Look at the comments on a post before clicking on any links. If someone has seen the post and clicked the link before you, they will likely return to the post to alert a moderator or write a comment explaining that the link is a scam. If you are scammed, be sure to alert your fellow group members to prevent them from also falling prey. 

  • Hover over links before clicking them. This is a trick many of you are familiar with from reading previous articles on preventing phishing scams. When you hover over the link, the true address that you’ll be directed to is revealed on the bottom right corner of your screen. Remember that any text can be linked, so if the web address preview that appears when you hover doesn’t match the actual link text in the post, don’t click! 

    • You should also look for suspicious extensions and site names in the link even if the link and address preview do match. 

  • If the post contains poor grammar or is phrased strangely, take additional caution. 

  • Always be alert! Enjoy Facebook group communities responsibly. Remember that it’s always safer to not click the link, so unless you’re absolutely sure that the link is safe, it’s best not to click on it. 

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