If you have had a Facebook friend request from a friend that you are sure you already have then – take a moment – it may in fact be a hacker!!
Many of us have fallen into the trap of accepting a friend request from someone we are already friends with. We’re all busy and often conduct our lives on the fly – so it’s very easy to do.
Creating a mirror Facebook profile or cloning is a very clever trick used by hackers to infiltrate our lives and steal our personal information. Hackers simply copy the information and photographs you have displayed publicly on your account and then used to create a new profile with your name.
Their aim is then to get your friends to add them. As your profile pic looks the same, your time poor and believing friends think it’s you and accept.
So What’s Their End Game?
In short, it’s not friendship! There are several reasons they could be cloning you and none of them pretty:
- Collecting Personal Information
This is probably their biggest focus. Many people ‘overshare’ on Facebook with details of their kids, families, work and home easily available. Many also have email addresses and telephone numbers displayed on their page. Once the hackers are ‘friends’ with your oversharing friends – it is very easy for them to get tips from your friends’ Facebook pages for passwords etc with the aim of accessing back accounts.
They can also start conversations on Messenger and glean further personal and financial information. And once they have accessed enough information, they can apply for a loan, sign up for a mobile phone contract…the possibilities are endless.
- Request for Money
Sending ‘heartwrenching’ stories of financial stress caused by life threatening medical conditions is another tactic used by hackers. And ‘your friends’ may just in fact open their hearts and wallets to the hackers. Beware!
What To Do To Stay Safe?
You may have seen the warnings doing the rounds on Facebook recently. Of course feel free to share the status if you think it will help however vigilance and NOT oversharing is key here. However this is easier said than done – recent research shows we are prolific oversharers.
And please ensure your Facebook privacy settings are up to date and tight! Here’s a good tutorial that should get you on track.
But if you find your profile has been cloned then you should report the fake account to Facebook. Here’s how:
- Go to the profile of the fake account.
- Click on the cover photo and select Report.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to file a report.
So, if you have a spare 5 minutes, check out your friend list and ensure you don’t have any double ups. If you do, you know what to do!
‘till Next Time
Stay Safe Online