Scam artists are getting in the Christmas spirit and this year they’re hoping to stuff your stocking with a Facebook hoax. A “warning” message is spreading on Facebook alerting users about a “Christmas Tree App” that infects PCs with a Trojan virus — but experts, including Best Buy’s Geek Squad, say that the warning itself is a fake.
While there may be viruses and other malware hidden in Christmas-themed eCards, email attachments, and other social media holiday apps, this Facebook Christmas Tree App warning is nothing to worry about.
Experts Debunk Facebook “Christmas Tree App” Virus Warning
Anti-hoax blog WafflesatNoon reports that the fake warning actually dates back to 2010, when Facebook users saw the following message circulate on their news feeds:
WARNING!!!!!! ….. Do not use the Christmas tree app. on Facebook. Please be advised it will crash your computer. Geek squad says its one of the WORST trojan-viruses there is and it is spreading quickly… Re-post and let your friends know ;-}
When Geek Squad was alerted to the hoax, they issued a statement explaining that they’d never heard of the Facebook Christmas Tree App or the Trojan virus it’s supposed to contain.
The message is simply a holiday hoax designed to scare Facebook users.
However, WafflesatNoon reports that Geek Squad is still cautioning users against unknown Facebook apps. As quoted on WafflesatNoon, representatives said:
“In actuality, Geek Squad has not officially investigated this particular application, nor have we identified it as the source of any infections in any cases we have supported. However, that doesn’t automatically mean that it’s ok to use.”
Holiday Facebook Apps May Still Pose Threat
Although the “warning” that’s currently going viral has been debunked as a hoax, there are still a number of holiday threats targeting Facebook users this Christmas.
Be careful where you click because many third-party apps come from untrustworthy sources. They might not spread viruses to your computer but they often spam you or your friends.
Other third-party Facebook apps may also change your Facebook privacy settings without your permission and then broadcast your personal info to other websites, marketers or even scammers. You may observe suspicious activity on your Facebook account that you didn’t knowingly authorize.
The good news is that it’s easy to protect yourself from malicious Facebook apps. Simply remove unwanted apps by going into your Facebook Account Settings, selecting “Apps” from the menu on the left side and clicking the little “x” beside the app you want to delete. You can also disable all third-party Facebook Apps in this menu.
Protect Yourself from Holiday Internet Scams
Remember, scammers love to take advantage of all the holiday hype to exploit you. Make sure you’re protected from Christmas cyber scams!
Keep anti-virus software installed and up-to-date on your computer, use a secure Internet browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, and use caution when clicking links from unknown third parties.
Spread the word on this Facebook hoax so your friends and family don’t fret over fake scams. After all, there are plenty of real viruses and cyber scams to watch out for!