Facebook account hacked? Encountered a suspicious, possibly fake Facebook account?
First published February 28, 2022.
- March 2, 2022
- March 3, 2022
- December 22, 2022
- January 14, 2023
Probably the most frequent scam I encounter are impersonated accounts. These are folks I know who are requesting me to be their friend, except I am deeply suspicious that they are not the same person. In essence, someone has 1) viewed their account and 2) copied photos that are open to the public for viewing.
To say your account has been “hacked” may be a bit much. In most cases, the “hacker” has not been able to access your account. What they have done is viewed publicly available information and cloned it. It is essentially fraud. They will use your reputation to entice people to correspond with them, leading them eventually to a scam of some sort.
The One Thing You Don’t Need to Do
The one thing you do not need to do is delete your account. I find that so unfortunate and it can get confusing for your friends.
Three Easy Steps to Improve Security
The easiest thing you can do to avoid this situation is to maintain good password management practices.
- Change your passwords at least annually if not more often. Whenever someone mentions you have been scammed, change it then.
- Secondly, use complex passwords. Being that most people use Facebook on their phones, passwords cannot get too complex if you also use it on your desktop or over your streaming media service. But it should be more than twelve letters long, a mix of capital and small case letters, with numbers and a special character.
- Some people may want to take advantage of multi-factor authentication. For most people, this would entail having your phone nearby.
- Use a password unique to your social media accounts. Don’t use the same password you use for the bank or the IRS or at work. If your account gets hacked, Lord have mercy if the hackers find out your bank account uses the same password!
- See more on password tips.
The second thing you can do is review your postings. Understandably, most of us set up our profiles so that they can be viewed by the “public.” That makes it possible for friends to find you and request to be connected. But our individual postings can be restricted to friends only. I noticed that many of you post pictures of your kids, pets and pastimes. Make sure you are directing those posts to your friends and not to the public.
Finally, you can check which devices are connecting to your account. It is a bit involved to access, but is very helpful in keeping tabs on who is connecting to your network.
- Click on your profile image in the upper right hand corner
- Select “Settings and Privacy”
- Select “Settings”
- Select “Security and Login”
- A report is delivered. Note there is a section titled “Where You’re Logged In”
- Schedule a regular review, preferably a monthly check.
The security and privacy settings are quite interesting and you will discover other tools you can use to improve security.
Fake Facebook Account: How Can You Tell?
Some of you may be wondering how I can tell someone is not for real. Here are a few suggestions:
- Check to see if they are already your friend. That’s the easiest give-away.
- If they are elderly, be alert. People get ill and pass away, and their accounts go dormant. These are the most frequent victims of impersonation. I sometimes ask mutual friends how this person is doing.
- Before answering their request, click on their name and visit their account. If you see only a few photos and an unusually low “mutual friend” count, be suspicious.
- Do a search for that person and see if a duplicate account shows itself.
- Does a person’s profile fit? This takes a bit of psychology, but I have frequently spotted scam accounts because they say things or omit things that I know a person would not normally do.
Reporting a Fake Account
Added March 2, 2022
Updated January 14, 2023
Facebook provides a useful reporting tool. Follow these steps to provide details about people who are impersonating your account (also called “imposters.”)
- Click the down arrow in the upper right corner of your Facebook page.
- A pull-down menu appears of which “Help and Support” is one of your options.
- Click “Help Center”
- A menu is presented where one of your options is “Hacked and False Accounts.” Follow their guidance. You will eventually see an opportunity to report false accounts (I found several links for reporting).
Personally, I found some of the instructions a bit confusing. I wish I had a fancy tool that would show an animated demonstration, but I don’t at the moment. But maybe this illustration will do.
- Bring up the imposter (don’t Confirm Request)
- Click the … found on the right (by the green arrow)
- A menu will be presented where you can report the imposter
The next screen that will be presented will provide an opportunity to report an imposter (pretending to be someone else) or a fake account (fictional). You can also use this technique to report harassment, bullying and what you may deem inappropriate content.
As noted above, a vast majority of the impersonated Facebook accounts are not “hacked”, but either classified as “impersonated accounts” or “fake accounts.” A “hacked” account is actually one where an outsider has taken over your real, legitimate Facebook account.
Tell Your Friend
This is up to you, but I will usually inform my real friend that their account is being impersonated and I refer them to this article. Again, the greatest tragedy I see are people deleting their accounts altogether or simply leaving Facebook. The second thing I notice is that people are declaring “Do not respond to my friend requests!” It is a bit humorous because the people who receive these requests are already your friends. The best thing to share with your friends is “Be aware of imposters” and share this article or information like it.
I usually communicate through the Message service. This keeps the communication private.
It is unlikely, but Facebook may either communicate with your friend about the imposter or they may accidentally interfere with your account. So telling your friend a report has been filed will at least give them a heads up.
Came across a good video on how to handle Imposters. The video also provides a tip on how to protect your friends.
Why All the Updates to this Article?
As you can see, there have been several updates to the article. The chief reason for that is that the Facebook interface and the features they offer are changing frequently. The second reason is your feedback.
“How to Tell If Someone Else Is Using Your Facebook Account”, alphr, by Lee Stanton, December 24, 2021
If you wish to comment on this article, please connect to my Facebook page or leave a comment below.
Public Domain. Free to the public for reproduction.