My No1 tip for safety on Facebook from scammers or not so nice “Friends” is to hide your Facebook Friend List. Updated 2019
Why Hide Your Friends List?
If your Facebook friends list is public (able to be seen by anyone) you will be more of a target for scammers, and so will your Facebook friends.
The most common scam, that has been around for years, is when a scammer “Clones” or creates a Fake Facebook profile using a real persons name and details, and then either sends out friend requests or messages to the Facebook friends of that stolen account that they can see on the real profile. The message sent to the victims Facebook friends will contain some bogus offer or competition.
No, You Haven’t Been Hacked!
Most victims of the scam think their account has been hacked, yes some Facebook accounts do get hacked, but with this scam, your account has been copied/cloned NOT hacked. You can certainly change your password, but it may not be necessary in this case.
Accounts that are cloned by scammers typically have made the fatal mistake of leaving their Facebook Book friends list set to public (where any user of Facebook who finds or searches for your profile can see it) or set to “Friends of Friends” To protect your account from being stolen and cloned, hide your friends from everyone, friends, friends of friends and the public. More below….
If you are the one contacted by the scammer it looks like this...
Your Fake Facebook friend messages you to see how you are, they may even get into a conversation with you, then they tell you about some incredible competition or deal they have, and may then connect you with another profile pretending to be the salesperson for the deal or competition. They will pressure you to give out all your personal details, and try to get you to do it right away with the support of your Fake friend. “No time to waste, time is running out!!!” etc..
If you suspect you have been contacted by a fake copy of a friends account who is a scammer, simply do a search for your friends name in the Facebook search bar at the top of any Facebook page, and check to see if there are more than one account under that name with the same profile pic.
It may be your friend does, in fact, have two accounts, some people do, but what you may find is that the account that is fake it isn’t filled out very well and is not very old, and you have never interacted with that account before.
You must alert your friend who has been cloned to warn them as other friends of them will also be contacted by the scammer and may fall for it.
Contact your friend via the account you would normally interact with, (be sure it’s not the fake one) or via another method, text, phone or email. And double check that it is actually a scammer and not them who has messaged you. If it is, in fact, a fake cloned account that has contacted you, they need to report the “Fake” account to Facebook as an impersonation account, using the reporting tools. You can also report it. Usually, Facebook take these fake scammer accounts down very quickly
Be sure to report the right one! Some people in their haste to do the right thing have reported the genuine account, it is then quite an ordeal for the account to be reinstated to the right owner.
Has Your Facebook Profile Been Cloned or Copied?
The way to check if your Facebook profile has been copied/cloned is to either do a search within Facebook using the search bar top centre for your name to see if you can spot an identical profile.
In some cases a scammer may block your real profile from their fake profile, meaning you won’t even see the fake profile showing up, so it is a good idea to ask a friend on Facebook to search for your name from their account to check, as they may not be blocked. Sometimes this is actually how you find out there are more than one of your profiles on Facebook, a smart friend on receiving a friend request or message from the fake account will do a search for your name in Facebook to see if there is a fake one out there. Your friend can then report the fake account to Facebook through the reporting process (see pics above)
Warn your friends as soon as you can!
If your Fake account is sending out messages and requests to your friend list, unfortunately, you will have to actually message all your friends one by one to warn them, as if you only post the warning to your profile wall, many friends may not see it due to Facebook’s annoying algorithm! You need to warn them as soon as possible to prevent them from being scammed. Use email as well to warn them if you can.
Cloned Account Hoax
There is a “Cloned” Facebook profile warning hoax going around Facebook asking people to copy and paste a warning out to their friends about a fake account in their name. Don’t share this, check your account as per above. If you have indeed been cloned, send out your own message to your friends being sure that you tell them that it is not a hoax. Unfortunately, the people spreading this hoax are going to make it easier for scammers to clone accounts, as so many people will actually start to ignore real warnings.
Bad Facebook Friends
The other thing that can happen with an open friends list, is that if you allow even your friends to see your friends list, you risk the scam spreading further, you may risk your family and friends being approached by someone they don’t know. I have also heard of “Friends” stealing friends, very creepy I know. I also know of some cases where people accepted a Facebook friend request from someone, only to have their friends list “harvested” for potential clients or network connections.
Very Important For Teens!
Hiding your Facebook friends list from friends and the public is a very important setting for teens, not just to protect them from scams but also to protect them from bullying, blackmail and predatory behaviour.
Bullying via fake accounts is the No1 way teens bully each other, and it spreads via open friends Lists. If your child is being blackmailed or bullied online, a friends list that is open to the bully is very dangerous, they can send your child’s friends nasty messages about your child or photos of your child that have been doctored. Predators also can target groups of teens through open friends lists and can blackmail kids into doing dangerous things, by threatening to post things to the child’s friends list if they have access to it.
People You May Know Friend Suggestion Bar
Some determined scammers might try to find your friends by sending you a friend request, and then possibly seeing some of your friends pop up in their friend suggestion bar, “People You May Know”. There have been some reports that this might be a way around securing your Friends List. To add extra protection be sure you have all the privacy settings set up to their strictest setting, including only setting privacy settings for friend requests so that you will only receive friend requests “Friends Of Friends” NOT everyone. This means that someone who was trying to get to some of your friends would have to friend a friend of yours first before being able to send you a friend request. The point of hiding your friend’s list from everyone is to protect your Facebook friends list from “Drive By” type scammers or stalkers, who are looking for an easy fish to catch. If it’s too hard…they move on to the next person who has very little privacy settings set up, and their friends list open.
Why Is This So Complicated??
Because Facebook prefer that everyones friends lists are open and public, it helps for people to find each other easily and connect friends. This type of scam has been going on for some 6 years or more from my recolection I first wrote this in 2015. Facebook need to make friends list private by default, and also need to change the friends suggestion bar more private so that scammers cannot use it to find your friends. Facebook do NOT make it easy to set your account so that it is safe and private, all the settings are there for most privacy but you do need to find them. Please do a privacy check and be sure your account is set to the most private settings.
My Cyber Safety manual has all the latest settings for Facebook and other social media accounts.
Facebook has now included the “Hide Your Friends List” in the privacy settings
On Mobile Facebook
Go to your privacy settings from your profile Click the 3 horizontal lines lower right – Scroll down to “Settings & Privacy” – “Settings” Scroll down to “Privacy” and scroll down to “Who can see your friends list” Set to “Only Me”
(NEW October 2018) Protect your friends and yourself by setting this very simple setting. See the video below for instructions. Set up through a P.C Web Browser version of Facebook.
Below How To Hide Your Friends List On Mobile Facebook App
See More Privacy Settings Step By Steps in my Cyber Safety Manual, See Ad below.