Consumer Alert: Protecting you from scams by using ‘the most powerful single click in your Facebook privacy settings’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Do you have a Facebook account? If you nodded yes, then your account could make you a target for scammers who show up at your home demanding money. And it is creative criminality at its worst because it targets our grandparents.

You’ll remember in April we told you about two calculating criminals from Florida fishing for victims here in Monroe County. They were finally caught when they targeted a grandmother in Perinton. They told the elderly woman that her son was in jail and needed bail money. They then sent a so-called courier to pick up the cash, but this savvy senior had called cops who were lying in wait. With police in pursuit, those crooks were caught when they crashed their car.

The grandparent scam is an old one, but here’s the new twist. According to the FCC, many of these thieves find their victims on Facebook. There, they can find a wealth of information about your family making it easy to impersonate your child or grandchild because you’ve given them all they need to know. But I’m showing you something the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls "the most powerful single click in your Facebook privacy settings."

Finding your way to that powerful button is easy. Here are your directions on your desktop computer:

  • Click on the downward arrow located at the top right-hand corner of your Facebook page.
  • Click settings and privacy.
  • Click on privacy shortcuts.
  • Under the “Privacy” heading, click on the three dots at “See more privacy settings.”
  • Click on “Limit past posts” By clicking that button, you can change the privacy setting for every post on your wall. Now only friends will be able to see your past posts, no strangers.

Directions for your phone:

  • On your profile page, you’ll see three dots beneath your profile picture. Tap those dots.
  • Tap view privacy shortcuts
  • Tap the three dots at “see more privacy settings.”
  • Under the heading, “Your Activity,” click on “Limit who can see past posts.”

Keep in mind that this only applies to posts that you have shared. If others have tagged you in their posts, they control the audience. And if you tagged someone in past posts, the post will still be visible to them and the audience visible to posts that they’re tagged in.

While it’s easy to limit all your past posts to just friends, it’s not as easy to go back. You would have to change the individual settings on each post you want to change.

While we’re on the topic of our grandparents, if you’re not yet collecting social security, you likely love someone who is. I care for my 85-year old dad and handle all of his financial affairs. And I noticed something at the beginning of the year that you likely noticed too. The amount of his Social Security check benefit had hardly changed at all. That’s because your 2021 cost of living increase was only 1.2% in 2021.

But the Senior Citizens League predicts that next year, that will change.

You could see a boost of 6.1% because of the spike in inflation. Some in Congress are also pushing to change the way your social security increases are calculated, and that could boost your increase even more. The Fair COLA for Seniors Act of 2021 calculates the cost of living by putting more weight on healthcare costs which are more likely to affect seniors and less emphasis on gas increases which affect seniors to a lesser degree than younger people who are driving more. I’ll keep a close eye on that bill for you and alert you to any changes.