The epidemic of hacking or cloning or spoofing accounts on Facebook seems to be getting worse as time goes on. I know three of my own friends affected in the last week, so let’s try to beat it back a little. I think we need to start out with a little clarification of what those terms really mean.
When someone pretends to be you and sends new friend requests to people on your friend list, a lot of people think that means you’ve been hacked and you need to change your password. This is very seldom the case. If your account is actually hacked, someone can get into it and make posts or messages that look like they’re coming from you, or change or steal information in your profile, or change your photos, or do anything they want. That’s serious, but usually if someone makes a post that looks like it’s coming from you, it’s because you left your phone or computer logged in and somebody came across it and they’re playing with you. If you actually did get hacked, you need to change your password if the intruder hasn’t already done it and stolen your account from you. You also need to get ahold of FB customer service and work with them to fix it.
Like I said, that’s rare. What most people experience is that somebody who isn’t you is pretending to be you and sending friend requests to people on your list. Almost anybody can steal your profile picture and your cover photo and use them to open a new account using your name. This is called cloning, also known as spoofing.
Why do they do this? Many reasons. They may pretend to be in dire circumstances and request money. They may be able to get people to click on links they provide, which may lead to malware, or ransomware, or even just ads that they get paid to get people to click on. They may be able to glean a lot of information from people who reveal things to friends that aren’t available to the public, which can be used to steal their identities. Lots of bad people are out there doing bad things.
What you can do to help prevent this is restrict a lot of information in your security settings. But if it happens, whether it happens to you or if you get a suspicious request from somebody who’s already a friend, you need to report the offender to Facebook. This is how to do that.
The easiest way is to go to that fake page. Do this by typing your name (or your friend’s name) in the search window, and select the one that looks like you or your friend, but isn’t.
On the bottom right corner of the cover photo is a little square with 3 dots. That’s if you’re on my computer…if you’re on my smart phone, the 3 dots are in a little circle to the right under the profile picture, labeled “More.” Hopefully your computer and phone are close enough to mine and you’ll figure it out…I’ll cross my fingers.
Click on those 3 dots and you’ll get some choices…click on the one that says, “Give feedback or report this profile.” In the next window, click on “Pretending to be someone.” Then you’ll get a choice under that, and you can click on “Me” or “A Friend,” depending on which you’re reporting. After that, click “Send” at the bottom and follow any further prompts that might show up. When I’ve done “A Friend,” it’s given me a list of my friends to pick from so their troubleshooters can determine who’s fake and shut them down. If it’s your account and a friend reports it, you may get contacted by the FB folks to get it sorted out, or it might be obvious and they’ll just fix it. It’s usually pretty quick.
Just remember these tips and if it happens to you again or you get something suspicious from a friend, it’s easy peasy to shut ’em down.