What Do You Do If Your Facebook Identity Is Stolen?

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I was recently scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I came across something odd written on my son’s wall. Yes, I have Facebook friends with both my son and daughter, who, by the way, are the ones who introduced me to social media. I am adamant about it.

Have you added your children to your Facebook friends list? I’ll get to that later. In any case, the odd message came from one of his high school teachers, who said something like, “I saw you in this video…” This seemed suspicious to me, similar to the recent Facebook virus attacks that have been published.

I assumed this teacher’s account had been hacked because my son’s teachers aren’t the kind to post weird things like this to anyone’s wall, let alone a student’s. I contacted him via email, and he stated that this had occurred. He had clicked on a link in an email purporting to come from Facebook, which led him to a phishing site where his login credentials were stolen.

I won’t detail the moral of the story because you already know what it is. The hackers had also modified the teacher’s Facebook password, so he was unable to access his account. He believed that Facebook had terminated his account at this stage, which was the end of it. I told him I could still see his pictures and other publicly available information, indicating that his account was still active.

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During the last few months, Primark’s generous promotion (the well-known Irish apparel giant) began to circulate on Facebook in Spain, promising users the chance to win a €500 gift card by liking a publication. Zara, another clothing behemoth, ran a similar campaign the year before, in which you could earn store credit if you invited friends to a gathering. These websites, deals, or activities, on the other hand, had nothing to do with the store in question or any of its employees. It turned out that these were bogus deals generated by fake profiles who exploited users through social engineering techniques.

Despite these incidents involving well-known retailers, any Facebook user’s profile could be copied and stolen. If you come across a profile that is impersonating yours or your company, there is a way to report it and get it deleted, as Facebook has a system in place to report and stop the imposter in its tracks. The first move is to go to the fraudulent page (you can’t lift an alarm from your profile), then click the button to the right of the cover photo and select “report.” Select “report this account” in the following window, which will open automatically, and then follow the on-screen instructions.

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However, the imposter may have blocked you, preventing you from accessing the account. If this occurs, you will need to enlist a friend’s help to report the fake account. A message will be sent to the friend with a connection to continue the operation. It’s also true if the victim of identity theft may not have a Facebook account. If this is the case, the social network’s support center has a section dedicated to such cases.

In any case, before viewing the material that the imposter has posted on the website, Facebook recommends that you consult with a lawyer or a regulator. The aim is for the affected party to be fully informed about the situation and the legal options available. The social media website offers assistance to its users and provides information to officials so that they can better understand how to respond. Furthermore, they have access to a special section where they can make their own demands for inquiries.

The intent of the false account determines the consequences that an imposter can face. Identity fraud over a long period of time (to the point that people are duped into believing the fake identity) is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison in Spain, for example. The problem becomes much more serious if the profile is used to collect sensitive information on other users in order to commit a crime.

We all hope that this never happens to us or someone we know, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared in case it does.

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