Avoiding Facebook Scams During the Holiday Season

never wire money, send personal checks and never go alone to an in-person transaction

FARGO, ND — Facebook allows people to buy and sell anything they’d like, but consumer watchdogs say it’s not always easy to know who you can trust.

Officials at the Better Business Bureau of North Dakota and Minnesota say social media can act as a playground for scammers.

“You can be anybody you want to be on social media,” said Heather Johnson, BBB’s business outreach coordinator. “You don’t necessarily have to make a profile that is you. There’s nobody checking on that.”

With scams happening every day on the websites like Facebook, Heather Johnson says people should proceed with caution.

People can avoid getting scammed by knowing exactly what product they’re getting.

This includes asking sellers for more pictures of the product, asking as many questions as possible and never wiring money or sending personal checks.

“You have the product in your hand, you pay the cash for it, you know the product is what you’re comfortable with and the transaction is smooth,” Johnson said.

Johnson says it’s also important to never go to an in-person transaction alone.

“If you ask somebody to meet you in a public place and they’re not willing to meet you some place in public, you have to question, ‘why not?'” Johnson said.

NDSU freshman Lucas Johnson has bought things in the past from websites like Facebook, but he says he doesn’t go on them very much anymore.

“You just hear stories about them tailoring their ads and knowing where you’ve been and that kind of stuff and I think that’s just kind of sketchy,” Lucas said.

MSUM freshman Ben Blanchard has also been wary of the website because scammers post fake job postings for college students all the time.

“They target them for job offers, whether it’s working from home or someone will have this too-good-to-be-true offer where it’s something like they get $200 for a few hours of work. Some people fall for it and they get their personal info,” Blanchard said.

Johnson says personal info is more vulnerable during the holidays because people get so busy.

“We have the added task of shopping and getting those perfect Christmas presents so being online, you can do it at lunch, you’re at the coffee shop or wherever and you’re just scrolling through, so it’s a draw for sure,” she said.

Johnson says another way scammers steal personal info from people is from Facebook quizzes that ask for an email.

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