Social media has become quite a valuable resource for identity thieves and general personal information theft, which in some cases can lead to real-world complications. Depending on how much information you have on display on your account can prove enticing to would-be cyber-criminals. One of the more common scams of late is Facebook account impersonation. If you have fallen victim to one of these scams, here are some things you can do to get rid of the account and protect you and anyone connected with you.
If you know someone who has experienced this in the past, then you know how risky and frustrating it can be. The process of impersonating someone on Facebook is actually really easy to do, especially if the original account holders information is set quite openly in the privacy settings. Basically, a scammer will create a new Facebook account with the same name as you, they will then copy your current profile picture and any information they can view on your profile.
Next, they will proceed to add people from your friend's list as well as other random Facebook users. From this point on it's open slather and the new account impersonating you can be used for anything, from posting to your friend's walls, messaging people with links to malware, viruses, possibly financial scams and even sending inappropriate images or Cyber-bullying.
Usually, if you are lucky, one of your friends will pick up that something is suspicious, wondering why you have created a new account etc. From here on out it's up to you to have the account reported and hopefully removed as soon as possible. Facebook is reportedly working on a new feature that will alert users of potential imposter accounts. However, it isn’t active yet, so you will need to take steps manually. Below are the procedures you can follow to have a fake account taken down.
How to Report an Imposter on Facebook?
There are two scenarios that may unfold when it comes to fake Facebook accounts:
- The first is that you have a Facebook account and someone makes a clone of it.
- The second is that you do not have a Facebook account and a scammer has set one up for you using information they have gathered elsewhere. This happens quite often if someone has a grudge against you and wants to cause your reputation harm. It’s also a commonly used tactic by cyber bullies. Whichever situation you are in, feel free to skip ahead to the appropriate section. It's also a good idea to share this information with friends and family, so they know what to look out for in the future.
If You Have a Facebook Account.
If you are already a Facebook user there is a quick and easy way to report accounts that you believe are impersonating you or people you may know. The first thing you are going to want to do is track down the profile of the fake account. From the main account page click on the Three Dots slightly to the right of the Message Box option. (The bottom right corner of the cover photo)
You will now see a few options, for an imposter account select Report, then follow all the onscreen instructions Facebook asks. Once you have completed the questionnaire, Facebook will investigate the account and its behavior. Sometimes the process may take a little while, however, you should hear back within a day or so.
Note: If you find out about a fake account/imposter you can also have your friends report it using the same method or if you spot an account of one of your friends, you can also report it for them. The more reports will generally mean a better/quicker outcome/response.
If You Don’t Have a Facebook Account.
Even if you don’t have a Facebook account, there are ways in which you can have an account removed if it is impersonating you in any way. The process is a little more involved and time-consuming than the first but will get you the results you require. The first thing you are going to want to do is open your Internet browser and go to the following page: Report an Imposter Account Page once you are on the page, follow the instructions given by Facebook. It’s important to note that you will need to prove that you are indeed who you say you are which means providing certain identifying information to Facebook.