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What to Do When Someone Steals Your Identity On Facebook

(Photo credit: Stephen Lam/Getty Images News)
(Photo credit: Stephen Lam/Getty Images News)

In an alarming series of messages from concerned friends, I discovered as I was getting ready for work today that my Facebook account had been hacked.

So…what to do?

Well, luckily in this case, it wasn’t so much that my actual Facebook account was hacked, but rather someone had stolen my profile picture and created a new profile using my name.

The fake “me” then started requesting all of my actual Facebook friends, and when they unknowingly added the scammer, they received messages about how I got their name from a Facebook Powerball winners list and asking about money.

Facebook account cloning
Seems totally legit, right? *Insert eye roll here* (Townsquare Media)

Fortunately, most of my social network is pretty savvy about these kinds of things, and I got about a dozen alerts from friends that this was happening, and they were reporting the profile.

I immediately posted a status on my real account to let my network know not to accept any new friend requests from me (or someone who is trying to be me!)

Within about 10 minutes, I received a message from Facebook support on my real account alerting me to the issue (and telling me to let them know if the second profile was actually NOT a scam) and letting me know they were investigating. They also sent a similar e-mail to the address tied to my real account.

I’d say no less than 20 minutes after the first message came in about the fake profile, Facebook had it removed. Scammers, be gone!

This annoying scam is called ‘account cloning.’ Depending on your privacy settings, scammers can easily copy your profile photo and name, and see your friend list, and go on to create a fake profile using all of that info. As a fun added bonus, they will sometimes block your real account so you can’t see it (OR report the second profile as fake.)

What to do if you are the victim of Facebook account cloning

  • Post a status alerting your network NOT to accept any new friend requests from someone with your name, and to report the scam account if they get a request.
  • If the fake account doesn’t have your real account blocked, you can directly report it as fake. You report an account by visiting the fake profile, and clicking on the three dots in the upper right corner, then clicking report.report a facebook account

    report a facebook account
    Laurie Cataldo
  • You can also directly contact Facebook to report an imposter by clicking HERE.

There is no need to change your Facebook password (though it never hurts to change your passwords periodically anyway.)

As for me, I’ll be adjusting my privacy settings so hopefully this doesn’t happen again. Thanks to Facebook Support for making the experience relatively pain free for me!

 

 

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