Social media channels are a great way to keep in touch with friends and family but can be dangerous if you’re not careful. And, we’re not just talking about spending too much time scrolling. Anything you share online is accessible to anyone, so don’t share any personal information
like your address and phone number. Even personal details as small as your elementary school or your dog’s name could be all a hacker needs to answer a few security questions and access your account.
If you haven’t heard of Facebook cloning or imposter accounts, keep reading. Scammers duplicate your Facebook account: same name, photo, personal details, and all. Then they’ll block you and use the new fake account to send friend requests to all your friends, who might not realize that it isn’t the real you.
A good imposter can convince your online connections you had issues with your account and had to re-friend everyone. Once they’ve recreated your profile and earned the trust of all your online friends, it’s time to get to work. They message unsuspecting friends, asking them for money, sending them links to download viruses to their devices, or collecting personal information about the victim to use in identity theft later.
To protect yourself from a copycat, keep your Facebook profile as private as possible. Take the time to look through the settings and choose options that keep your profile photo, personal information, and friends list hidden from accounts that aren’t your friend. Switch as much as you can from “public” to “only friends.” And, use the feature available on Facebook to view your profile from a public perspective to take a look at what an outsider can glean from your account. The less information, the better.
If you’re already the subject of a clone account, report it to Facebook right away and let as many friends as possible know another account is posing as you and to ignore or report a friend request from them. Look closely at all friend requests you receive, especially if you believe that you’re already connected with this person. You can check your existing friends list and then contact that person offline to see if it’s a legitimate page or let them know they’re being imitated. Keep a close eye on all your social media activity: it can help protect us all!