What To Do About Facebook Friend Hacks
Guest article by Janita Docherty.
Friends connecting on Facebook is something that needs to be respected and trusted.
Recently, a number of people, including myself, have received friend requests on Facebook from people they know. Why is this unusual? Because these requests are from people who are already connected in some form or another, be it in real life or through some other online presence.
Chances are these requests are from scammers attempting to gain access to your Facebook account and utilize the information that you share only with friends, or perhaps, only with yourself. They do this by creating a Ghost Account, or what some people refer to as a Fake Imposter Account, meaning they’ve copied public information from a friend’s Facebook account in order to trick you into accepting their friend request.
Once you’ve accepted their friend request, the scam artist is in a position to glean as much of your information as needed to further their scam. They move on to sending friend requests to your friends by creating an imposter account from your details.
What to do
If you receive a sketchy request from someone you know, first check with that person to see if it’s actually them.
If it’s not, report the Fake Imposter Account to Facebook and the people on your friends list to be on the lookout. Below are some helpful links:
How to combat it
You can start by changing your profile picture and cover photo as sometimes the Fake Imposter Account copies these. Making this change helps your friends distinguish between the imposter and your real Facebook account.
Check to see what you’ve posted in Public View – this is done by choosing the ‘View As’ tab on your Profile Page. The ‘View As’ tab will display a public view of your Timeline.
Lock down your friends list. To do this, click the friends tab on your profile, and from the dropdown box choose the option of ‘Edit Privacy’ and then ‘Only Me’.
A more difficult issue arises when a ‘friend’ who appears to have just joined Facebook sends you a friend request. Be on alert! Verify the account by sending this person a text message or email. Do not send a private Facebook message as this does not verify the account! If you are not comfortable contacting the person to verify the account, should they really be on your friend list?
(If you feel you have to friend them, once verified, place them in the ‘Restricted’ or ‘Acquaintance’ listing so they view only a limited profile.)
Some would say the above is too cumbersome and time consuming, but how much is your information worth? Isn’t going the extra yards to protect your account, personal posts and photos worth it?! …. I think so!
Real life scenario
A new person started at the office and you later receive a friend request from them. A check of their Timeline shows their account was only opened a few days ago. For the moment, you ignore the friend request. The next day you check the account and they have managed to friend 16 of your mutual friends.
Nobody has bothered to verify the account via text, email or other form of contact. It is later discovered that this person has created a Fake Imposter Account.
This fake account now has access to a number of colleagues’ information from that work environment, along with access to their family photos, friends, other information and personal posts.
This is a real scenario, just discovered this week! These work colleagues had no idea and are concerned as their information may have been downloaded, copied, printed out or shared by the fake account!
More than ever, being a friend on social media needs to hold an element of respect, trust and appreciation that you have been chosen to be an online friend. The friends you have on Facebook need to have your back… if you can’t verify them or trust them.. ‘unfriend’ and get rid of them! This is for online safety and management of your digital reputation, not only for you, but for your family and friends.
Stay Safe Online ~ Janita – CyberActive Services