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The New Target
At the end of 2010, Facebook became the most popular social networking site with an astonishing 500 million users worldwide, with those users spending several hours on the site per day. With such an impressive amount of users that flock to the site on an hourly basis, either chatting with family and friends or playing one of the many games that the site offers, it is no wonder that it has become a target for online thieves and hackers.
A new threat came up on Facebook in the beginning portion of 2010, when there was an offer of a free iTunes gift card if a Facebook user signed up for a particular group on the networking site. This began the free iTunes Facebook scam.
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How the Free iTunes Facebook Scam Works
The iTunes Facebook scam is obviously aimed at users of Facebook, as well as users of the popular iTunes music player. A Facebook user receives a message for a group invitation that offers a free iTunes gift card worth a certain amount of money (usually over $20) from a business that is conducting a social networking experiment. This experiment requires having a large number of people join the group (usually your friends and/or family on Facebook), explaining that the user will need to fill out a form with their information in order to receive the free iTunes gift card.
This 'form' will of course ask you for important and personal information, such as your address, phone number and possibly your social security number.
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Why You Should Avoid It
This was a scam that targeted Facebook and iTunes users who were not technically savvy. Luckily, this group no longer exists on Facebook, however according to a few users this scam had changed focus and was being used with Amazon and Starbucks gift cards after the initial run.
To avoid this scam (and others from Facebook), make sure that anything you join on the social networking site is initiated by your friends or by people you know. Check out the group if you're able to do so before signing up with it, or send your friend a message if you have a question in regard to the group. A real friend will not be upset if you decide not to join a group or click a link that they have posted or invited you to, especially if you explain that you think there is something suspicious about the item.
Facebook spent 2010 trying to increase the security and privacy for their millions of users in order avoid issues, and while security has been tighter on the site, it is still a user's responsibility to double check links and other items that try to gain access to their information. New Facebook users should spend as much time going over their account and privacy settings, as they do searching for friends and family.