Police warn about virtual online kidnapping

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Police in Texas are warning its residents of an old scam resurfacing. It's being called "virtual kidnapping" and involves horrible threats and thrives off fear.

Here's what happened: A man received a phone call from another man, claiming that he had his daughter held at gunpoint. If the father didn't leave his house in 30 seconds to go to the bank and wire him money, his daughter would be killed.

The father immediately left the house, while his wife went to their daughter's bedroom where she was found safe and sound. The caller? He hung up.

While there is no direct physical threat with this type of scam, it's a scary one where the scammer will try and keep you on the phone as long as possible in order to prevent you from calling the police, or checking on the status of the alleged kidnapped person.

What's worse is that they know your name, your phone number, the names of the people you love and the general area you live, likely pulled from social media accounts like Facebook.

If there's any way you can help prevent this from happening to you, you'll want to make sure your social media accounts are set to private.

Follow these instructions:

First, navigate to your settings page by clicking the arrow and then "Settings." Now click the "Privacy" tab on the left, and you should see a bunch of options. Clicking the "Edit" button will give you a drop-down menu where you can select the options which best suit your needs.

I'm going to give you a quick rundown of what every setting means.

  • Who can see your future posts? Facebook has long since defaulted to "Friends" for this, but if you have an older account it might still be set to "Everyone." If that's the case, change it. You can even go a step further and select "Close Friends" if you only want specific people to see your posts unless you say otherwise.
  • Limit the audience of your past posts: You will probably want to do this if you haven't already. If you started a Facebook account before 2010, then the content you posted will be available for all to see. This option is a quick way to restrict your posts to just your friends. Just note that if you want something available to everyone, you'll need to go back and change that post individually.
  • Who can send you friend requests? This all depends on how you want to be found. If you pick "Friends of Friends" then only people in your social circle will be able to add you on Facebook. "Everyone" is OK if you want old friends and classmates to be able to friend you. However, people might try to scam you if you let anyone send you a friend request, so watch out.
  • Who can look up the email address/phone number you provided? By default, anyone can find you by searching your email address or phone number on Facebook. You can make it so only friends have this option.
  • Do you want search engines to link to your timeline? If your content is publicly visible, then search sites like Google can return your posts in search results. You probably don't want this enabled unless you're a public personality.

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