The Catch of the Day: You.

The internet, as great as it may seem, has many opportunities for trouble. Especially when it comes to protecting your identity. Even though all over your profiles are set to private, you can still be exposed to risk to phishing, or when illegitimate companies/profiles (or what I like to call phishermen) reel internet users into a vulnerable state and stealing their personal or financial information.

The most common type of phishing is called catfishing. Catfishing is when a person makes a fake profile using someone else’s identity. They then “fish” for people by starting up conversations with others and begin online friendships or relationships with them pretending that they are actually the person in the fake profile and not ever revealing their true identity. Catfishing was coined by Nev Schulman and Max Joseph in their movie Catfish in which Nev meets a woman he was dating online who turned out to be a completely different person than she claimed on the profile.

 Reality vs Online 

You may think that this could never happen to you, but actually anyone with a social media account can be “catfished.” This is doable because everyone on the internet has access to anything you post on your social media pages and can easily save pictures from your Facebook, Twitter, etc. to create a fake identity with your face. It is so common that Nev and Max have even made a television series on MTV that removes the internet from the equation and brings online relationships together and reveals the true identity of hundreds of online catfishers. You may think that catfishing isn’t too bad, but it can and does ruin people’s lives.

Even scarier is the fact that someone can steal you financial information with only minimal effort by the phishermen. This information is commonly stolen through phishing messages sent by fake companies or even hacked friend’s profiles. Messages are usually trying to get your attention and lures you into clicking the accompanying link with things like supposed leaked videos of you, good deals on products, or even warnings that accounts are at risk if they don’t click the link. This is one I received a couple years ago on Twitter from one of friend’s pages that had been hacked:

spam

Nothing good will ever happen from clicking these links. Links will be different every message so do not risk it if you have any suspicions. If you do click the link, you computer may contract a virus or multiple viruses allowing hackers to gain access to your computer and then gives them the ability to steal your life’s savings or even your whole identity. Here’s a video by Mari Smith that explains such messages in a little more detail and gives you some tips on how to identify phishing messages:

So be extra careful when opening messages like these and make sure to verify with the other user that it is in fact them and not a phisherman.

More recently, Facebook quizzes, which are becoming more and more popular. These quizzes claim that they can tell you what color matches your personality, who your soul mate is, etc., just by allowing them to analyzing your profile, but these quizzes are actually just phishermen using a different medium to steal your identity. Sites like Meaww that allow third parties to create quizzes on their site then link them to Facebook even admit that your personal information is up for grabs in their private policies. For instance, Meaww’s privacy policy states:

We are not responsible for the practices employed by any websites or services linked to or from Meaww, including the information or content contained within them. Please be aware that if you choose to use a link to go from Meaww to any third party’s website or service, such third party’s own rules and privacy policy (and not our Privacy Policy) will apply and govern your activities and any information you disclose while interacting with such third parties.

Your best bet to avoid these type of phishermen is to simply not partake in Facebook quizzes. Besides, these quizzes cannot actually tell you anything about yourself just by looking at your profile anyway so it is not worth any of your time anyway- and you can trust me and my psychology degree on that.

So keeps these tips stored in the front of your mind when your using your social media profiles and remember to be wary about clicking links and always trust your instincts if things seem a little phishy.

 

 

Here are four things to do immediately if you are hacked and here are 13 of the Best Ways to Avoid Being Catfished.

 

 

 

 

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