Most Facebook friend requests come from actual friends, but some are from anonymous people with ulterior motives. Facebook account cloning is a simple scam – but it’s easy to be fooled by it. A cloned account is a copy, that uses your public information including profile photo and other public information to trick your friends into thinking its really you. It may seem like a harmless prank, but these clones can cause real damage. A cloned account may convince your friends to send them money, collect passwords or other information, or dupe them into other scams.
Biggest Tip to Protect Your Facebook Account
If you receive a friend request from someone new, always check to see if you're already friends with this person by using the search bar on the Mobile App or Desktop Site. Simply type in your friends name and see if you're friends on Facebook. Simple as that! If you're already friends with this person you should first reach out to this person using another method than Facebook to verify that they created a new profile. Believe it or not that are other methods to get in touch with people... for starters there's face to face, but you can also call, text, email or use another social media platform that both parties use.
Rember falling for the Facebook Clone Scam tricks could cost you and those who you are already friends with on that platform!
What is the Facebook Clone Scam?
Account cloning isn’t a hack or an exploit – it’s just a result of clever scammers using your publicly available information to fool your friends. Pretending to be you, the cloned account could message your friend saying they need cash to handle some emergency – for example, being mugged and needing funds to get back home. You may think your friends are too smart to fall for a scam like that, but because these requests come from you, they may respond without thinking.
And that’s why you need to worry about Facebook account cloning. Whether it’s your account or a friend’s that’s been cloned, there’s real harm in this “prank.”
Some Scam Artists are using a tactic called Facebook cloning. They steal your Facebook name, add your friends and use your photos to clone your account. In most cases this information is readily available to anyone on Facebook if your profile page is set to "Public" rather than "Friends" or "Friends of Friends". Then they use the fake account to approach your friends and family online.
"Maybe they’re trying to get you to send them money," said Danielle Hatfield, a social media expert and owner of Experience Farm. "However, other scammers are trying to do something a little more nefarious, and that’s steal your identity."
Hatfield said the cloners might even check your statuses to learn to mimic your style of communication.
"When they finally get around to the scam of maybe asking for money, your friends and family will fall for it," Hatfield said.
Facebook has over 2.934 billion users as of October 2022. If you're reading this article you likely also have a Facebook Account or someone you know is encouraging you to set one up to stay in touch.
Hatfield said that if you come across an account you aren't sure is real, just search it on Facebook to see if you're already friends with that person. If they send you a questionable post or link, give them a call or text message and ask if it's really them. If the account is fake, report it to Facebook immediately.
If your account gets cloned, Hatfield said you should warn others and then check your privacy settings to make sure only friends can view your profile.
How do I know if my Facebook account has been cloned?
You can search Facebook for your name to see if there are other accounts pretending to be you, but it’s likely that there’s someone else on Facebook who legitimately shares your name. So while you can do this to look for duplicates, be aware that not every result will be someone maliciously cloning your account.
But you’re far more likely to find out your account has been cloned after the fact, when your friends notice odd behavior from you on Facebook. Before a cloner can scam your friends, they have to send them a friend request from their cloned account, which can set off red flags for the security savvy. If they accept your friend request without thinking, they’ll start receiving messages that may not sound like you. If a friend tells you they’ve gotten a friend request or a suspicious message, your account may have been cloned.
What should I do if my Facebook account has been cloned?
Facebook doesn’t allow accounts to impersonate others, so if you find a clone account you should report it to Facebook. Just go to the cloned profile and:
Click the “…” icon in the upper right of their profile page.
Select “Report Profile.”
Follow the instructions onscreen to report the account for impersonating you.
Facebook (META) has put policies in place to prevent Facebook Cloning such as requiring profiles with large followings, social influence or popular/famous people by requiring some kind of government issued ID. This may be a Drivers License, School ID, or utility bill to prove that the person behind the keyboard is who they say they are. Utility Bills also allow Facebook to confirm where a user may be logging in by using Location Information. With more and more consumers using a VPN this process may or may not provide valid proof however.
How to Protect your Facebook Account
If you access Facebook via a web browser on a laptop or desktop computer:
1 – Log in to your Facebook account and visit your Timeline page.
2 – Click the Friends link.
3 – Click the three dots located just to the right of the “Find Friends” link.
4 – Click Edit Privacy.
5 – On the line that reads “Who can see your friend list?“, click the down arrow at the far right and select Only me.
If you use the Facebook app on a mobile device:
Note: The exact steps required to hide your friends list might vary a bit from the ones below, depending on your version of the Facebook app. If so, use the following steps as a general guide.
1 – Open the Facebook app and sign in to your account.
2 – Tap your profile avatar picture in the top-right corner of the screen.
3 – Scroll down and tap Settings & Privacy.
4 – Tap Privacy shortcuts.
5- Tap See more privacy settings.
6 – Scroll down to the “How people find and contact you” section and change the “Who can see your friends list?” setting to Only me.
That’s all there is to it. Now that your friends list is private there’s very little risk that it will ever get cloned by a scammer.
How Our Company can help protect your online identity.
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Other Tips and Sources about Facebook Cloning:
If you'd rather secure your Facebook Account yourself please review CNET's self help link (provided below)