A friend tells you they got a Facebook friend request from you, but you are already Facebook friends! Your account has been hacked, and your password compromised, right? Not quite. You are victim to a Facebook cloning scam! Your account has been cloned. Unlike hacking, your account has simply been copied using the information found on public social media accounts or the internet. This scam has been around for years.
Your cloned account is used to send phishing links, trick your friends into sharing information, or even send money. They may spread the scam to other Facebook accounts by using your identity and contacts. Scammers message your contacts and pretend to be you by accessing your public photos and information.
They gain access to your friends when the friends accept the new request. Once accepted, they might send a message with a phishing link. Since your friends think it’s you, they’ll trust the link and open it. This action can cause a malware download or lead them to a fake website. The phony website will look like a legitimate site where people can enter their login information. The scammers can then collect personal information to make purchases, hack into other accounts, and compromise bank accounts. Scammers could even contact your friends, pretending to be you, and say you have been in an accident or are in a dangerous situation and need money right away.
So how will you know if your Facebook account has been cloned? The first sign is if a Facebook friend asks you if you made a new account. Hopefully, your social media savvy friends will suspect a scam right away. Others may add the cloned version but realize it is a scam when they receive a strange message.
The best way to find out if your account has been cloned is to search for your name on Facebook. Check out different spellings of your name too. Be sure to include any initials, middle names, or previous names. Beware! If scammers have already blocked you on Facebook, you won’t be able to find your cloned account. Ask your friends to search as well. You should also search on search engines like Google or Bing.
Ten Ways to Protect Yourself from Facebook Cloning
- Watch what you share with people on social media.
- Check your settings to ensure your account is set to private.
- Regularly check your Facebook privacy settings. Facebook updates things all the time!
- Keep in mind anything you share as public can be viewed by EVERYONE on the internet.
- Add only people you know and trust to your friend list. Make sure contacts are legitimate before you add them.
- Set your friends list to private.
- Check what the public can see.
- Report a cloned account as soon as you find it to Facebook.
- Check what the public can see by going to your profile and viewing it in “view as” mode.
- Keep in mind even if your account is private, you may have made some posts public.
By being careful about what you share, you protect not just yourself but your friends and family too. Scammers can’t use your information to trick them if you secure your accounts and information.
Got a question about whether something is legitimate? Just give us a call at 508-478-6010. We are happy to help!