The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Warning! Facebook Messenger App Scam: How to Protect Personal Data on Your Mobile Device

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Warning! Facebook Messenger App Scam: How to Protect Personal Data on Your Mobile Device

Washington, DC - (WJLA)  There has been a lot of talk about the privacy of the new Facebook Messenger app, but now, there may be something very different to be worried about. There’s a fake messenger app out there, and if you download it, all your personal information stored on your phone is in jeopardy.

Alida Sanchez lives life on the go.

“I’m never in front of a computer "cause I’m moving around all the time, so I do everything on my phone,” she said.

When a friend sent her a Facebook message, Sanchez had to get the new Facebook Messenger app to see it.

“I was like, ‘OK, I’ll download it for this, just to check it,” she said.

But within hours of the download, Sanchez noticed something disturbing: someone had accessed her credit card account, making hundreds of dollars in charges to Facebook. It took only moments for scammers to get her personal information and start spending.

“It’s frightening when you really think about the access that people can get in a short amount of time,” Sanchez said.

Bruce Namerow, with the Online Marketing Firm Interactive Strategies, knows how easily personal data can be stolen.

“Chances are that someone hacked one of her friends’ accounts and got in and wrote a message with malware,” he said.

That bad message would give scammers a way to see what Sanchez accessed after she downloaded the app. In this case, it was her banking website, and Sanchez never knew she was being watched, because the message and the app seemed legitimate.

“People have gotten very, very good at tricking people,” Namerow said.

Sanchez says she won’t take that chance again. When it comes to messaging with her friends, Facebook is no longer an option.

“Text, email me, you have my number. You know how to contact me elsewhere,” she said. “I’m not even opening it. I want to have nothing to do with it.”

Even if messages come from friends, Namerow says you should be skeptical; not everyone has secure passwords, so friends’ accounts may be easily hacked and they could pass along scams to you.

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