How your friend could be your enemy

Many people enjoy the chance to make new friends. Whether it’s at work, school, the local library or other location, the experience is usually unique and offers untold potential. When that experience is on social media, however, the person making a friend request might be anything but your friend.

Criminals lurk in the shadows and often wear disguises to mask their intent. When a person you’ve never met before sends you a friend request on social media, it might not be from someone looking to enrich your life with their friendship. It could be from someone looking to obtain your personal data to rip you off.

Scammers fool interesting targets on social media to open up a personal treasure trove of data to them. The scammer might use a clever or funny profile photo and an interesting collection of personal information on their own social media page to make them seem friendly, likeable and even desirable. They’ll use this cleverly created account to request friendship status with others. There are multiple methods of attack they might employ when they gain this level of access including the following:

  • Use the information on your page to piece together likely passwords for your social media, email and other accounts.
  • Use your personal information to steal your identity and apply for credit in your name.
  • Use their newfound friend status to fool you into falling for their scams.
  • Send you website links or downloadable files designed to steal passwords and account information from your computer or infect it with damaging software.

To avoid the harm a shadowfriend might cause, avoid accepting friend requests from anyone you don’t personally know. Also, be sure to limit the information you share on social medial to friends only. Do not allow the general public, and interested scammers, to have access to all of your personal information.

You may want to share the good times and bad with your friends on social medial, but if the wrong person gains access to your personal information, the bad times may get far worse than you imagine.