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Better Business Bureau: Don't fall for social media royal baby scams

By By Tracy Bracy
Aug. 3, 2013 at 3:03 a.m.

Tracy Bracy

The bigger the news story, the bigger the opportunity for scammers. With the new royal baby making headlines across the globe, BBB expects to see scammers swooping in to take advantage of the public's eagerness to see photos of the newborn prince.

Be careful where you click when you see a tantalizing website luring you into seeing new pictures of the latest addition to the British monarchy, which many of you can't resist.

Fraudsters are believed to have targeted tens of millions of people just hours after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge introduced their new son to the world. Analysts said a group launched its "malicious email campaign." Its messages contained a link entitled "Watch the Hospital Cam."

Scam artists also prey on victims through "phishing" emails that promise "exclusive videos." The link in the email takes you to a third-party website that asks for your personal information.

The Better Business Bureau is out with a warning that it expects cons will start to cash in on the newborn prince's popularity. It has seen this type of thing before.

How the scam works:

You are on Facebook, and you see that your friend likes an "exclusive" video of the new royal baby. The link promises candid footage that no media outlet has. Curious, you click on the link.

You are taken to an unfamiliar, third-party website. A pop-up appears, prompting you to "update your video player" before you are able to view the clip. You click "OK."

However, when you download the file, you aren't updating your software. You are really downloading a virus that scans your machine for banking and other personal information. This opens you up to the risk of identity theft.

Like all scams, this has many variations, and it's not limited to Facebook. Watch out for similar links posted on Twitter, through other social media or sent by email. Scammers can glean your friends' names and emails from their Facebook accounts and send messages posing as them.

Take the following steps to protect yourself and others from scam links shared through email and social media:

Don't trust your friends' taste. It might not even be them "liking" or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked.

Don't take the bait. Just stay away from promotions of "exclusive," "shocking" or "sensational" footage.

Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don't click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.

On Facebook, report scam profiles, posts and other suspicious activity.

On Twitter, if another user is sending you links to malware or other spam, report them to Twitter.

Use anti-virus software. Be sure your software is up to date.

Stick to major and trusted news sites. If anyone is going to have the latest scoop, it's going to be them. It's probably not going to be confined to an obscure and fishy-looking website.

To find out more about scams, check out the Better Business Bureau Scam Stopper.

Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by email at tbracy@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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