Have you ever seen a Facebook friend who suddenly appears to have two accounts? You may have even seen friends posting warnings such as, “Please don’t accept any new friend requests from me, my account has been hacked.” Perhaps this has even happened to you. This practice is, unfortunately, very common. It’s referred to as “Account Cloning” or “Account Impersonation.”
What “Facebook Account Cloning” Means
Facebook cloning occurs when a scammer sets up a fake Facebook account using the exact name (and often the exact same profile picture) as someone else. If this happens to you, the scammer may begin sending friend requests to your friends, pretending to be you, in order to get access to their information or to perhaps trick them in other ways. This practice is essentially a form of identity theft.
Scammers can do this if you’ve made parts of your profile public, such as your Friends list. Fortunately, you can secure your account to help prevent cloning, and you can report the fake account to Facebook in the event that your account is cloned.
Steps to Prevent Facebook Account Cloning
The best way to prevent Facebook cloning is to properly secure your account and secure your Friends list. To secure and “lock down” your account, go to the Facebook Privacy Settings and Tools Page, here:
You can also get to the Privacy Settings page by clicking the little lock icon that appears near the top-right of the blue bar at the top of every Facebook page:
On the Privacy Settings page, make sure that all the settings are set to “Friends” (or “Friends of Friends” where “Friends” is not an option.) Do not leave any of your privacy settings set to “Everyone”.
Locking Down Your Friends List
To ensure that your Friends list is not public (which may allow a scammer you don’t know to send friend requests to your friends,) do the following:
- Go to your Profile page by clicking on your profile picture anywhere that it appears on Facebook.
- Click on the “Friends” module/tab:
- On the Friends tab, click the pencil/edit icon near the top-right of the page, and then click “Edit Privacy“:
- In the pop-up window that appears, make sure “Who can see your friends list?” is set to Only Me, then click the Done button at the bottom-right:
What To Do If Your Account Has Already Been Cloned or “Hacked”
If someone has already created a fake version of your Facebook account, here are a few recommended actions you can take to resolve the problem:
- First take all of the steps described above to secure your account.
- Change your Facebook password.
- Change your profile picture.
- Post a warning on your wall that a duplicate, fake account exists.
- You can report the fake account to Facebook by following the instructions on their Help page titled, “How do I report an account that’s pretending to be me?” You may also want to use Facebook’s Report an Impostor Account page.