Clickbaits: How to avoid being hooked

Who is your celebrity twin? What will you look like in 50 years? What are the top five places to live?

Fraudsters and hackers are always looking for new ways to nab people’s personal information. Clickbait is a tactic that relies on people’s curiosity. A provocative headline (like “one weird trick” for weight loss) or advertisement entices people to click on what looks like a news story or a product, but is in fact often a link to a website hosting malicious code like viruses or ransomware.

Clickbait scams sometimes involve surveys—convincing users to disclose personal information with questions like “When is your birthday?” or “What type of car do you drive?” Even the most trivial questions can help scammers guess passwords or the answers to security questions like “What was the name of your first pet?”

Clickbait ads can also lure visitors to fake or misleading websites to try to sell them something, or as yet another way to harvest personal information. Take a look at the image below—this spoofed site prompts users to sign in with their Amazon username and password.

The Better Business Bureau offers tips for spotting potentially malicious clickbait. They recommend taking claims like “exclusive,” “shocking,” or “sensational” with a grain of salt, and hovering over a link before clicking it to see the true destination.

Victims can report clickbait scams to .

Understand the potential dangers of clickbait for your own personal and departmental safety, and then alert your community about these scams.