Fake Facebook Profiles – How to handle a spoofed account

February 11, 2021

It is a common scenario: you receive a friend request from someone on Facebook who you are sure is already your friend.  But, it is their name and their picture.  And they have some mutual friends.  Maybe they created a new profile and started over?  Or were they hacked?

Most likely… neither.  They have not been “hacked” (where someone has obtained login information and is using their actual Facebook account).  Rather, they have been “spoofed.”  Someone has used the publicly viewable pictures from someone’s page and created a new account using their same name.  Then, they work through that person’s friends list and attempt to add these friends to the spoofed account.  Once the scammer has direct access to your friends, they will begin contacting them and eventually asking for help (money) as if it is you.

Reporting a spoofed profile

To report a spoofed profile, go to the scammer’s Facebook page and then use the dropdown to the far right of the Message button on the cover photo (click on the three dots).  Select “Find Support or Report Profile” and then “Pretending to Be Someone.”  You will then be asked if they are pretending to be you, a friend, or a celebrity.  If a friend, you’ll report which friend it is and confirm your report submission.  Facebook will review your report and notify you of the outcome of their decision.  The process takes less than 2 minutes.

If you have been spoofed, make sure to report it.  Also, change your profile picture to a new picture. 

Protect yourself from being spoofed

The most important way to protect yourself from being spoofed is to make your friends list private.  Go to Settings, then Privacy, and then review the question “Who can see your friends list?”  This should NOT be set to “Public.”  Making your friends list viewable by only your Friends will go a long way to making your profile an undesirable target for spoofing.  Of course, this will require you to be careful when accepting friend requests.  If you accept the request of a spoofed account, now that scammer will see your Friends list.  Setting your friends list to be viewable by “Only Me” is even more protective.

Facebook is a great tool for connecting with people you know.  But if the person asking to connect is a stranger, be wary.  Even if it is someone you know, do a little research and make sure you are not already friends.  Finally, resist the temptation to give away personal information on Facebook.  Seemingly innocent surveys and games can be traps to secure password reset hints and more.

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

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