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Beware Click Bait Scams
Tennessee Legal

"It’s smart to be skeptical if a post promises you something free that normally would cost money, such as an IQ test or a free credit score." ~ Michelle L. Corey, Better Business Bureau president and CEO





One of the newest consumer scams involves what is called "click bait."


Q:What is "click bait"?


A:"Click bait" is a term for enticing links that appear on social media sites, such as Facebook.


Once a consumer is drawn by the "bait" and decides to "click" on such a link, the link may download a software application, or "app," onto the consumer’s smartphone or desktop computer.


Q:Why is "click bait" a problem?


A:Not all links cause problems for consumers, but sometimes consumers end up with unpleasant surprises from interacting with "click bait" sites.


(1) Some "click bait" apps can add hidden charges to your cell phone bill.


The Better Business Bureau has warned that one of the IQ test apps asks you for your cell phone number before you can obtain your results, resulting in junk texts plus a monthly charge of $9.99 or more on your cell phone bill.


(2) Some "click bait" apps may install malicious software.


This software is capable of stealing your bank account or credit card numbers and other confidential data.


(3) Some "click bait" links are viral in nature and seize the names and contact information for your friends and family.


Facebook users who recently clicked on the "Be Like Bill" meme-generator agreed to "Terms of Use" which included this now-deleted English-like phrase: "You will allow us to use, edit your content with our service permanently, no limit and no recover."


Other counterfeit "free coupon" links on Facebook, which falsely promise free services, free food, or free merchandise, are actually hosted by scammers in other countries.


Q:What can I do to minimize my risks from "click bait"?


A:"Click bait" involves new technology, but the best counter-measure is an old piece of wisdom: "Beware of anything that looks too good to be true."




James B. (Jim) Hawkins is a general practice and public interest law attorney. This column represents legal information, and is not intended to take the place of legal advice. Please call (615) 452-9200 to suggest topics or questions for future columns.