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

by on June 17, 2022
in Facebook, Computers and Software, Computer Safety & Support, Tips & How-Tos :: 59 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 “Report Profile.”
  3. Follow the instructions onscreen to report the account for impersonating you.

Phone held in hand showing the Facebook Profile Settings page you see when you click on the triple dots in the upper right of their profile page.

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 & privacy."
    Screenshot of Facebook showing the triangle menu icon pointed out in the upper right corner and the dropdown menu showing the privacy and settings option
  3. Select "Settings."
  4. Click Security and Login in the left-hand column.
  5. 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.
    Screenshot of Facebook Security and Login settings showing Where you're logged in with the triple dot menu opened next to Samsung Galaxy A52 5G login with the options Not You? and Log out.

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 in the list of "Where you're logged in," click the menu button to the right and select “Not You?” to report it to Facebook. When you've finished reporting the unrecognized logins, select the option to "Log out of all sessions." This will boot out the hacker. After that, 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 & privacy."
  3. Select "Settings."
  4. Click Security and Login in the left-hand column.
  5. Scroll down to “Setting Up Extra Security.”
  6. Click "Edit" next to “Get alerts about unrecognized activity.”
  7. Select “Get notifications” and then choose an email address (or email addresses) to be notified by email.
  8. 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 & privacy."
  3. Select "Settings."
  4. Click "Privacy" in the left-hand column.
  5. In the "How people find and contact you" section, check to see who you have selected as being able to see your friends list. If it's "Public" or you want to change who can see your friends list, move on to step 6.
  6. Click on "Edit" next to "Who can see your friends list?"
  7. 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.

Updated on 6/17/2022 with current instructions on how to change your settings.

[Image credit: Techlicious]

Elizabeth Harper is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering consumer technology and entertainment. In addition to writing for Techlicious, she's Editorial Director of Blizzard Watch and is published on sites all over the web including Time, CBS, Engadget, The Daily Dot and DealNews.



Discussion loading

one exception

From Diane on June 22, 2022 :: 5:49 pm

I keep my Facebook profile pretty clamped down and restricted, and follow the steps you recommended and more to do so. The only exception I make is leaving the option open for everyone/public to find me. I do this because some time ago my son who has a mental illness disappeared. Friends of his and an angel of a stranger (who only had my name) were able to find me through Facebook and send me an initial message through Facebook Messenger so that we could get in contact. If it weren’t for the angel/stranger especially, the situation would not have had such a miraculous ending.

I would only recommend this exception if you are as diligent as I am about hiding my friends’ list, checking and deleting my logins regularly, limiting past posts (especially anytime I update a profile or cover photo), and so on. I rarely get spam messages or fake friends requests. Actually, I cant even remember the last time I did…

Reply

How to lock down the account from the APP?

From Jefferson Davis on July 24, 2022 :: 2:21 pm

Many times apps are not on feature parity with their desktop version.  While the instructions do clearly say to do this from the web browser, many will skim over this detail.

Reply

Arrival outdated, just got this from FB after reporting clone

From JohnR on August 05, 2022 :: 11:47 am

John, our technology reviewed your report against not to take the profile down.

our Community Standards. Ultimately, we decided

We take action on profiles that pose a danger to other people or are harmful to the community.

If there’s something specific on this profile that you think we should review (example: a photo), please report the content itself.

Thanks again for helping us keep Facebook safe

and welcoming for everyone.

Reply

Same "NON-RESPONSE" to a cloning report

From Alan on August 17, 2022 :: 4:04 pm

I’ve been trying for a week to get anyone at FB to take some action.  I’ve reported CLONED 4 or 5 times, and that has shown zero response of any kind.  So, I tried “VIOLATED FB Standards”,  Evidently, they can’t afford a human to look on a reported cloned user, and also can’t write both software to take a username and at least SEE if there are identical users with signs that it is a likely cloned account.

“Too big to Fail” comes to mind, and incompetent management.

Reply

My , Facebook account was

From Fatima Mustafa on August 20, 2022 :: 12:17 pm

My , Facebook account was hack or clone I’m not sure if which of this one

Reply

Facebook does NOTHING about cloning

From Ecal Irving on August 29, 2022 :: 10:11 am

Facebook does not care about cloning. I reported several cases for friends and today one for myself where someone copied my background and profile picture and made an account with my name. Know that my name displays THREE names, which makes it unusual where no one else has it. So, it’s OBVIOUS that I was cloned. I reported it to Facebook, and here’s what they said. “We found that it isn’t pretending to be you.” ... ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! They don’t care. Best thing for everyone to do is get off of Facebook.

Reply

hovering for hackers - different locations and IP addresses?

From Graham Hayman on September 26, 2022 :: 9:58 am

Thanks for the useful - and clear - article. I posted to our community bb and my page.  I looked for hackers by checking for other devices where I am logged in.  Found only one marked “Active now” and below that a list of previous logins. Two locations!  I almost always use my computer for FB (not my phone), almost always from home, and a VPN most of the time. I log in every day. The locations I can see (i.e. not Show More) in the list are Denman Island BC Canada where I live, and Vancouver BC Canada (where I visit maybe once a year).  I saw 49 logins - 39 labelled Vancouver, 13 labelled Denman Island. When I hover my cursor over each location login, an IP address pops up. About 4 - 6 seem to recur. Should I
be worried?

Reply

log in locations

From P.Stark on January 18, 2023 :: 7:34 pm

every time i log in I get a different local that is not in my town and state.  then I found this on Face book
The Location History setting is no longer available and the experiences it made possible have been disabled, even if your setting was previously enabled.

so using the location of where you or if someone else is using your account is logging in makes no sense using it as a determination that your account has been account? I know it was me logging in, but I do not live the town that face book is saying I logged into. I am getting tire of having to keep changing my password and stressing over why its not my town.  ever since meta took over they disabled the location indicator. its totally rediculous! d

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