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What is Facebook Account Cloning & What Can You do about It?

by on March 07, 2019
in Facebook, Computers and Software, Computer Safety & Support, Tips & How-Tos :: 25 comments

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Facebook account cloning is a simple scam — but it’s easy to be fooled by it. A cloned account is a copy, that uses your profile photo and other public information to trick your friends into giving up their information. It may seem like a harmless prank, but these clones can cause real damage. A cloned account may convince your friends to send them money, collect passwords or other information, or dupe them into other scams.

Account cloning isn’t a hack or an exploit — it’s just a result of clever scammers using your publicly available information to fool your friends. Pretending to be you, the cloned account could message your friend saying they need cash to handle some emergency — for example, being mugged and needing funds to get back home. You may think your friends are too smart to fall for a scam like that, but because these requests come from you, they may respond without thinking. 

And that’s why you need to worry about Facebook account cloning. Whether it’s your account or a friend’s that’s been cloned, there’s real harm in this “prank.”

How do I know if my Facebook account has been cloned?

You can search Facebook for your name to see if there are other accounts pretending to be you, but it’s likely that there’s someone else on Facebook who legitimately shares your name. So while you can do this to look for duplicates, be aware that not every result will be someone maliciously cloning your account.

But you’re far more likely to find out your account has been cloned after the fact, when your friends notice odd behavior from you on Facebook. Before a cloner can scam your friends, they have to send them a friend request from their cloned account, which can set off red flags for the security savvy. If they accept your friend request without thinking, they’ll start receiving messages that may not sound like you. If a friend tells you they’ve gotten a friend request or a suspicious message, your account may have been cloned.

What should I do if my Facebook account has been cloned?

Facebook doesn’t allow accounts to impersonate others, so if you find a clone account you should report it to Facebook. Just go to the cloned profile and: 

  1. Click the “…” icon in the upper right of their profile page
  2. Select “Give feedback or report this profile”
  3. Follow the instructions onscreen to report the account for impersonating you

Once you’ve reported the page, post to your timeline and tell friends not to accept new friend requests from you, and to ignore any messages that might be scams. 

How do I know if my Facebook account has been hacked rather than cloned?

When your account is cloned, someone on Facebook is pretending to be you. But when your account is hacked, someone is actually using your Facebook account to be you. Though cloning is more common, you should check to be sure no one has access to your account. Here's how to check if your Facebook account has been hacked:

  1. Open Facebook from your web browser
  2. Click the triangle in the upper right to open the menu, then select Settings
  3. Click Security and Login in the left-hand column
  4. The “Where You’re Logged In” section tells you every device that’s logged on to your account, and when they last logged on. Click “See More” to see a full list, and review each login to decide if it’s you. 

If every login was you, then you have nothing to worry about.

What should I do if my Facebook account has been hacked?

If there are any logins you don’t recognize, click the menu button to the right and select “Not You?” to report it to Facebook. After that, it’s a good idea to change your password and set up two-factor authentication for extra security — you’ll find both options on the Security and Login page.

Even if you haven’t been hacked, it’s a good idea to turn on alerts for unrecognized logins. When it’s enabled, Facebook will tell you if an unrecognized device logs on to your account, so you’ll know if a hacker has access to your account immediately. To turn it on:

  1. Open Facebook from your web browser
  2. Click the triangle in the upper right to open the menu, then select Settings
  3. Click Security and Login in the left-hand column
  4. Scroll down to “Setting Up Extra Security”
  5. Click Edit next to “Get alerts about unrecognized activity” 
  6. Select “Get notifications” and then choose whether to get notified by Messenger or by email. 
  7. Click Save Changes 

How can I avoid Facebook account cloning?

Start by hiding your Facebook friends list. Anyone who clones your account will use your friends list as a list of targets, but if your friends list is private, it’s much harder for them to find anyone who will fall for their scams. Fortunately, hiding your friends list only takes a few quick clicks:

  1. Open Facebook from your web browser
  2. Click the triangle in the upper right to open the menu, then select Settings
  3. Click Privacy in the left-hand column
  4. In the "How People Can Find and Contact You" section, select "Who can see your friends list." Click it.
  5. In the drop-down menu, select who you would like to see your friends list.

And while you're looking at your Facebook settings, it's never a bad time to review your privacy settings. Keeping your information locked down is the best way to keep yourself safe, so take a minute to review your other settings.

[Image credit: Facebook on phone via BigStockPhoto]



Discussion loading

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I'm not sure why I'm seeing another person's FB profile and friends while trying to get into my own

From Heather DiCosmo on April 09, 2019 :: 2:32 am

I’m not sure why I’m seeing another person’s FB profile pic &his; friends every time I try to login to my account. I’m not a hacker, I’m not sure what’s going on here. Can someone please help me resolve this bc I don’t want anyone seeing my personal private stuff or my accounts or pictures.

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Can you clarify?

From Josh Kirschner on April 09, 2019 :: 10:14 am

Are you seeing someone else’s pic before you log in or after you log in? If it’s before you log in, that’s just because that person used your device to log in to Facebook previously. You can change that by clicking the X in the corner of the picture to “Remove account from this page”.

If you’re seeing someone’s picture after you log in, are you sure you’re logging in with your credentials and not someone else’s credentials who were saved on your device and are being autofilled during the log in?

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Account cloning

From Mark Saulys on June 23, 2019 :: 10:05 am

If the clone of your account blocks your original account then you won’t be able to find the clone account ina search, correct?

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Yes, that's likely the case

From Josh Kirschner on June 24, 2019 :: 9:49 am

When someone blocks you on Facebook, they don’t show up in your searches, so that shouldn’t be any different for a cloned account. And it is probably a pretty smart idea for scam accounts to block you for that reason. However, you could always find those accounts by searching from the account of a friend or spouse to help with reporting them.

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Facebook has disapeared

From Pamela whelan on October 05, 2019 :: 3:31 pm

My facebook and messenger just vanished.said I had suspicious activities and won’t let me log back in.its asking for a photo Id which won’t let me upload.somebody made a fake profile of me last week so think it has something to do with that.but how do I get my page and messenger back as I’ve my business page linked to it and I can’t access it

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Please check if I have been hacked or cloned.

From Sylvia Atkin on November 10, 2019 :: 5:19 pm

I have seen where friend request have been made but I did not do it.  Also messages have been send from me that I did not do.  Please check and let me know.

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Instant Messenger

From Keith on December 06, 2019 :: 10:05 am

How do I stop a hacker sending out instant messages with my profile picture and name asking for money

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Report the other profile to Facebook

From Josh Kirschner on December 06, 2019 :: 10:19 am

There’s not much you can do to stop people from cloning your profile, all you can do is report it after the fact. (Note, these aren’t “hackers”, just impostors). But if you follow our steps above on how to avoid it (that is, make your account less interesting to cloners), it’s unlikely people will try to clone your account in the future.

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Hy

From Neha on March 17, 2020 :: 1:50 pm

Hello

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FB cloning and messenger

From Kate on April 24, 2020 :: 7:47 am

Hi,
So, I received a message from the boyfriend of a friend, and when confronted about it, the boyfriend claimed he knew nothing about it and that his account was cloned. When I go to messenger and click on the message, then request to view the profile that sent it, I’m taken back to the boyfriend’s real profile. He claims that the cloned account connected the two. Is this possible?

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Don't see how that is possible

From Josh Kirschner on April 24, 2020 :: 11:25 am

I can’t answer definitively about what is going on without more details, but I don’t see a way that a message from a cloned Facebook account could redirect back to the real account.

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https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100037511835634

From Šûñ Mîñ Hțüñ on May 08, 2020 :: 10:21 pm

I don’t password

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Not at all helpful

From T Bradley on May 17, 2020 :: 2:50 pm

My wife is victim of a clone profile - of course, all the buttons such as “give feedback” or “report this profile” are deleted from the menu on the profile page. So, while it’s probably not even on the Facebook platform, it’s still a good copy and can be used for the same nefarious reasons in pretty much the same way. So, not helpful. (But no complaints - Facebook itself provides exactly the same unhelpful advice, with nowhere to report this variation on the situation.)

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That's not possible on Facebook

From Josh Kirschner on May 18, 2020 :: 8:54 am

There’s no way to remove the Report Profile option on a Facebook profile page. Are you saying this is a profile on Facebook that you can’t report or a profile off Facebook you can’t report (which if that’s the case, not clear why you’re blaming Facebook for something not on their platform)? Can yo provide a link here to the profile you’re concerned about so I can review in more detail?

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Facebook cloning??

From Rick on June 14, 2020 :: 11:55 am

I have a different situation. Someone by a totally different name is using my email and phone number for their account. If I log out of my account and go back in and type in my username and password it takes me to their account and not my original?? What is that and how do I fix it?

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It's not possible to work the way you're describing

From Josh Kirschner on June 16, 2020 :: 1:30 pm

Email is a unique identifier in Facebook, so there is no way for two accounts to be sharing the same email address. If you try to create a new account using an email address already in use, it will simply take you into account recovery mode.

Without being able to see exactly what you’re seeing, it’s hard to say what is going on. But if you could provide more detail on your account and the other account, I can take a look. If you don’t want to post the account IDs here, you can email them to me at josh at techlicious dot com and I will respond back in the comments.

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Cloned but can’t find the clone to report it

From Dorothy on July 03, 2020 :: 8:18 pm

I’ve been cloned, but I’ve searched for another account of name and found nothing. 
So how can I report that account if I can’t find it.
My friends are telling me they are getting friend requests and messages.
Very frustrating
Thank you

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Cloned or hacked old account

From Sarina Bezuidenhoud on September 15, 2020 :: 1:21 pm

I think my previous profile account has been cloned or hacked. What can I do to delete that account or remove it.

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Follow this advice

From Josh Kirschner on September 17, 2020 :: 8:59 am

We have an article that walks you through the steps to delete an old Facebook account. Though if it has been hacked, you may no longer be able to access it, in which case you will need to recover your hacked Facebook account first. If your account has been cloned, deleting your real account is probably a bad idea, because then only the cloned account will be out there. Instead, report the cloned account and get that removed first.

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Cloned Facebook account

From Neil Hughes on September 21, 2020 :: 10:58 am

My wife’s friend has been receiving messages from an account bearing her name, but it isn’t her account. I’ve asked the friend to send me the link to the site so I can take action and report it, but she is unable to do so. When she taps the profile picture which usually enables you to copy the link, a message headed “content not found” is displayed. Is there any other way to get rid of this fake account?

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Sounds like it has already been removed

From Josh Kirschner on September 21, 2020 :: 9:30 pm

If you’re seeing the content not found message,  the profile has likely already been removed. Is she still getting those messages after she saw the “content not found”?

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Facebook issue

From Melissa Martin on October 08, 2020 :: 8:30 am

My account was hacked several weeks ago. The person was able to change my email address to his and he changed my name on my facebook profile and made it his name. All of my friends can see his name under my picture and it is creepy.  I tried to report this with no help.  I created a new page and now that has been disabled.  I know it is tied to the hacking. How can I get around this?

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How did you report it to Facebook?

From Josh Kirschner on October 13, 2020 :: 7:59 am

You’re able to report your account being hacked here: https://www.facebook.com/hacked? Is that what you tried already? If so, the next step should be to have your friends report the account as hacked by going to the profile and reporting it as “Pretending to be someone”. That may get the account shut down, rather than recovered, but it may be your best option if Facebook isn’t responding to your hacked request.

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Friend's Messenger was cloned.

From Paulette Vaughn on October 11, 2020 :: 8:27 pm

She has deleted her messenger to try to stop them but “she” is still sending messages.  I tried to report from a message sent to me but it won’t let me submit after I choose who is cloned.  What can she do?  She as already reported with no response.

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Keep reporting it

From Josh Kirschner on October 13, 2020 :: 8:01 am

Keep reporting the profile and have her other friends report the profile, as well. Hopefully, sooner or later, Facebook will take care of it.

Reply

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