Sound Familiar?

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Professional networking concept with icons of business people connected together symbolizing a team or a group of colleagues (Professional networking concept with icons of business people connected together symbolizing a team or a group of colleagues,

Sound Familiar?

Heads up!

Hi, I got another friend request from you yesterday. Almost every account is being cloned. Your picture and your name are used to create a new Facebook account (they don't need your password to do this). They want your friends to add them to their Facebook account. Your friends will think that it's you and accept your request. From that point on they can write what they want under your name. I have no plans to open a new account. Please do not accept a second friend request from me. Please forward to all your contacts!
Chain letters are nothing new but in October, our Messenger was inundated with similar messages like the one above. Identifying features of chain letters will end with statements such as: “forward to your friends” and “pass this on”.
Many people think this a “hack,” but it’s actually not. A hack doesn’t happen unless someone accesses your Facebook page from the inside, i.e. a stranger gains access to your password.

Are these chain letters a hoax, a hack or a virus?

If the chain letter contains a “click here” or a URL, there is a strong possibility it contains a virus. If you open one of these links and it asks you to input your Facebook login information then yes, there is a strong possibility it is a hack.
Chain letters without any attached links or any instructions other than “share this with all of your Facebook friends” is a chain letter. There’s no harm in a chain letter other than the annoyance of them.
Because Facebook profile duplication is nothing new, there is a good chance that this particular chain letter started innocently and gained popularity because the content personally affected someone who felt the need to share. Which then got reshared, shared again and so on.

Who is a desirable target for Facebook cloning?

This would be the person who has their personal information like their birthday, workplace, their profile photo, and/or their Facebook friends list unsecured. An unsecured account is one that has any of the features mentioned above set or defaulted to public view.

Check Your Security Settings

The majority of Facebook users don’t know that they can customize their personal security settings. And very few have an understanding of how security tools work in general. Most people are using Facebook from their phones, and the security features are not easily accessible, which means they go unseen and not understood. These important security tools are located in the “Settings” tab.
The layout of the security tools in “Settings” is more user-friendly from a computer than a cell phone or a tablet.
Adjusting your settings so your photos and information are only accessible to your friends is the best way to keep strangers from cloning your profile page and claiming to be you.

Search For yourself

To be sure you have not been cloned you can do a Facebook search for yourself and any variations of your name. If you find more than one account that appears to be you, check it out. Keep in mind it may be possible you accidentally created a new Facebook profile when you got a new phone or changed devices. If that is the case, log out of Facebook and log in again using the email address you believe to be associated with that account. You can ask Facebook to “remind you of your password” using that email. Log in, delete that profile under the “Settings” tab and log out. It could be a few weeks before it completely disappears, just keep an eye on it.
If you find a cloned account that you did NOT create by accident, go to the profile and “report it” and choose the option “this person is pretending to be me” after they choose “Report this profile”.
Give it some time. If the account is still active in a few weeks, get some friends also to report it and claim “they are pretending to be someone I know”.

From your phone

Touch the “More” icon for the drop down of menu:
PhoneMore
PhoneMore2

From Your Computer

Choose the three dots to see the drop down menu:
PhoneMore3

Cloning is identity theft and should be taken seriously.

The kinds of damage that can be done ranges from your reputation being ruined to your friends being ripped off and conned while thinking that they are helping you with financial or emotional assistance.
Let’s say you receive a message from a friend whose account has been cloned but no one is aware of it. They tell you that they have been in a car accident, are shaken up and can’t remember their home address or they may be asking for money to pay for a cab home. You would likely offer any information that you have to help them as well as possibly send them money too. Imagine if the cloner asked all of that person’s friends for help in the same fashion? The cloner would have a lot of information gathered before the cloned profile gets shut down. Scary, right?
Being proactive and informed as a user and as a friend can keep everyone from falling victim to cloners. And remember chain letters are harmless, though annoying and the best way to stop them is not to share them.

All articles are written by Green Strategy Online Reputation Management team members.
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