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Scammers troll for Facebook connections

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TEXARKANA -

While social media has made connecting with others easier than ever, it's also made it easier for scammers to reach their victims.

One place to encounter online scams is Facebook, but there are ways to avoid becoming hacked.

College student Brooklyn Chaufty uses Facebook everyday to keep in touch with friends.

While Facebook encourages sharing, Chaufty learned the hard way that it also means certain scams can travel far and wide.

"Someone sent me a message and I didn't realize it and I clicked on it, and it actually spammed my Facebook," said Chaufty. "I had to go in and delete everything, and I actually had to make a new Facebook."

She's not the only one, Facebook has become a playground for scammers.

A wise rule of thumb is to only friend people you know well, understand the privacy settings and be wary of questionable links.

"Ask yourself if this was something your friends would have typically shared. If not, don't click the link," said Kristin Burnham, Senior Editor of InformationWeek.com.

She says one of the more popular scams on Facebook is the survey scam or free giveaways, which tricks users into giving out information or downloading malicious files.

Burnham says many times scammers will use shock value, or promises of celebrity secrets to draw in users.

"If the language of the post or link is enticing you to click or take immediate action, be wary of that," said Burnham.

How about this one: Who viewed your profile?

While this scam has been around almost as long as Facebook, Burnham says there are some who still want to believe it's legitimate.

"Showing you the people who have clicked on your profile, obviously this is something everybody would be curious about, but it's not something Facebook would ever do," said Burnham.

While the social network constantly works to strengthen its security features, it's still important to know what to do in case your account is compromised.

If this happens, delete spam messages, scan your computer for malware, and notify Facebook.

"Change your account password immediately to something that is hard to guess, if you use that password for any other accounts, which many people do. Make sure you change the password for those other sites too," said Burnham.

With Facebook's growing popularity, the likelihood of becoming the victim of a scam has increased, but Facebook user Lamoya Burks says it's still something that's preventable.

"I make sure that my security settings are definitely intact, to avoid those," explained Burks.

A new Facebook policy now gives teens between 13 and 17 the choice of switching their settings so their posts can be accessible to the general public.

Burnham says teens should understand the repercussions of posting something everyone will see.

"I think it's really important for parents to take some time to understand the Facebook privacy settings for themselves, because unless they have a good handle on them, they won't be able to help their kids," said Burnham. 

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