Protect yourself from identity theft by staying vigilant about social-networking scams.

By Susan Stellin
Updated February 07, 2011
Illustration of Facebook profiles

The rip-off: Admit it—you would love to know who’s been checking out your page. Maybe your college sweetheart? Or your spouse’s ex? This scheme, which pops up on the social-networking site as an advertisement or a message on your wall that appears to be from a friend (but in reality isn’t), promises to let you do just that.

The tip-off: Click to download the app and you’ll be disappointed in more ways than one. “Facebook does not offer a way for members to see who has viewed their profile, nor do we allow applications to provide this information,” says Simon Axten, a company spokesman. Try to use it and you could give scammers access to your Facebook account and everything in it, including your e-mail, physical address, and photos—which may make you a victim of identity theft. Additionally, scammers could target people on your friends list with the same scheme.

How to protect yourself: Never click on these app links, says Graham Cluley, a consultant with Sophos, a computer-security company. And don’t think that you can find out who has rejected your friend request, either (another version of this scam). You can’t. If you see an application or a page that promotes either of them, contact Facebook ( The company has posted a security alert promising to remove the links from its site.