Well, the account cloning epidemic on Facebook is showing no signs of letting up. In fact, it seems to be getting worse.
Every day I see frantic posts from several of my friends saying they’ve been hacked and not to accept a new friend request from them.
I know how alarming it can be when your friends start sending you messages saying they’ve received duplicate friend requests from you, but the situation really isn’t as dire as it seems.
The important thing to understand about this situation is your account cannot send a friend request to someone who is already your friend. Sending duplicate friend requests wouldn’t serve any useful purpose, therefore Facebook doesn’t even give you the option of sending them.
What’s more, hackers can’t send duplicate friend requests either, even if they somehow manage to assume control of your account. In short, the “duplicate” friend requests your friends are receiving aren’t duplicates at all. They are being sent from an entirely different account.
What’s happening is some scammers on Facebook are cloning (i.e. making fraudulent copies) of accounts, NOT hacking the original accounts.
What they’re doing is simply copying whatever personal info you have made public on your account along with a few of your pictures and using that info to create a brand new account in your name. They then send all of your Facebook friends a friend request from the new fake account.
After they have tricked several of your friends into “friending” the fake account, they use that account to spread malware and scam other Facebook users – starting with your friends!
I know that sounds serious, and it is. But luckily Facebook is actually pretty good at quickly shutting down the fake accounts as soon as they are reported.
I wrote a post about this account cloning scam a while back and it tells you what you need to do to have a fake account in your name taken down.
If your Facebook account gets cloned by a scammer, your real account hasn’t been hacked. You don’t need to change your password. All you need to do is follow the steps mentioned in the post I linked to above to report the fake account and have it taken down by Facebook.
However, the above being said, hackers do successfully take over Facebook accounts on a regular basis. The steps listed in this post can help prevent your own account from getting hacked.
Just know that having your account cloned isn’t anywhere near as serious as having it hacked because your real account hasn’t been compromised and you can easily get the cloned account removed.
And finally, always remember this: The less information you make available to the public on your Facebook profile, the less information a potential scammer will have to work with (i.e. steal) if he decides he wants to clone your account.
That’s why I recommend “hiding” as much info as possible from everyone except your friends It’s also a good idea to limit the types of information you publish on your profile page in the first place.
Bonus tip #1: This post explains why there’s really no such thing as “privacy” on Facebook.
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