With over 400 million users, Facebook is a constant target of online criminals and scam artists. The “Facebook will start charging” scam has been around since last year, yet people are still falling for it. Even worse, there’s been an increase in these types of scams over the last couple of months.
How the Facebook Will Start Charging Scam Works
Online criminals create Facebook pages claiming that Facebook will begin charging some monthly fee. For example, the page “I won’t pay $3.99 to use Facebook starting in July” is a scam. And the page “I will not pay to use Facebook as of Sept 7th 2010” is also a scam.
In fact, Facebook spokesman Larry Yu stated, “We have absolutely no plans to charge for the basic service of using Facebook.”
There are many variations on this theme, and they’re all scams. I searched on Facebook for “Facebook pay” and got 287 page results (see below). And every single one of these pages is a scam! The top result had 7661 fans.
Just out of curiosity, I searched for “Facebook pay” again the following day and noticed that the pages are growing. The top result went from 7661 fans to 7844 fans and the second result went from 6877 fans to 6899 fans. So it looks like things are going in the wrong direction.
Online scammers create Facebook pages (and groups) in an attempt to trick people into divulging their personal information, downloading malicious content, or inviting their friends to join the page. In the case of the “Facebook will start charging” scam, it seems the most common method is to get people to invite their friends to the page in an attempt to amass a large number of fans they can then sell to unsuspecting businesses.
Just take a look at the information on the “I will not pay to use Facebook as of Sept 7th 2010” page:
And if you look at the information on some of the other Facebook Pay pages, you will notice that they don’t ask you for any personal information, or ask you to download something, or ask you to go to another website. The main thing these pages are asking people to do is to invite all of their friends. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t malicious links showing up on these pages, so be careful, and don’t click on any links in these pages.
So now that you know the truth, don’t join any Facebook pages claiming that Facebook will start charging.
How to Protect Yourself on Facebook
For the most part, these Facebook Pay pages weren’t setup to steal your personal information – although I didn’t look at every single page. And even if they were setup for that purpose, you usually have to take some action for this to occur.
But joining not only encourages criminals to keep coming up with these scams, it also puts your friends at risk. How? Well, as soon as you join, it’s displayed on your friends’ news feeds. A friend could see it and then join the group.
So, other than the obvious don’t join advice, here are a few other tips to help keep you and your friends secure while on Facebook:
- If you see your friends joining these Facebook Pay pages, warn them about the scam and tell them to remove themselves from the page.
- Spread the word. Scammers take advantage of the fact that people aren’t aware of these scams to do their dirty work. If people are informed of the risks, then it becomes a lot harder to get away with it. So tell your Facebook friends, and send them a link to this post, or any other post on the topic.
- Be suspicious of any Facebook page that makes it easy for you to invite your friends, asks you to download something, or asks for your personal information in return for something else.
- Always check the page’s wall before joining. There are legitimate reasons why you may be asked to download and install something from Facebook pages. However, there are also plenty of malicious programs out there. The legitimate stuff will, for the most part, work as advertised. On the other hand, the malicious stuff usually won’t work at all. So if you go to the page’s wall and see a lot of people complaining about the fact that it doesn’t work, stay away! Odds are it’s malware. And I’m not talking about a couple of bad reviews, because even the legitimate programs will get bad reviews every now and then. But if you see mostly complaints, then it’s likely to be malware. And even if it’s not, why waste your time, it obviously doesn’t work!
- Join the Facebook Security page to get the latest security updates from Facebook, or visit Facebook’s Safety Center.
- Read and follow the 5 most important steps for internet security to protect your computer from online criminals.
Have you come across this scam? Have you come across any other Facebook scams lately? What other ways of staying safe on Facebook do you recommend?