Facebook Identity Theft

Facebook has adopted a proactive approach to combating fraudulent activities on the platform. For example, they are now prioritizing claims of impersonation and aiming to resolve such issues within a week.

However, we at Confirm know that the fight is far from being over. More and more fake accounts are popping up online, and it’s eroding the trust and integrity in our digital interactions. Facebook has even deleted around 27.7 billion fake accounts on its platform since 2017. That’s three times more than Earth’s population—and a lot of them are stolen identities.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can protect yourself from identity theft. We will also share some pointers on how you can spot a fake or stolen Facebook account. 

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is the unauthorized use of a person’s personal information to commit fraudulent activities. A ton of these malicious individuals operate on Facebook, where it is easy to make accounts. After all, all you need is an email address.

For example, a person can simply grab your profile photo and use your name to pretend to be you. They will then add your friends and relatives and pretend they’re you. Sometimes, they’ll claim your main account is “hacked,” which is why you have a new one.

An impersonated Facebook account can do many things, from spreading misinformation to asking the victim’s friends to send them money or learn about their personal information. Some of them use your credentials to scam unsuspecting customers on Marketplace.

In fact, this is one of the reasons we’ve created Confirm in the first place. We understand how important it is to know if the person behind the profile is legitimate or not. Confirm allows its users to create government-verified digital identities they can share with strangers. 

Plus, we keep sensitive information hidden. At minimum, you’ll only have to reveal your name and photo.

Still, while it’s easy to find and report fake accounts daily based on you or someone you’re acquainted with, spotting other stolen identities is trickier.

How To Spot Fake Accounts on Facebook

Some stolen identities look obvious, while others appear to be legitimate at first glance. Whether you’re chatting with someone new or transacting with them on Marketplace, here are clear signs of identity theft and how you can spot them:

Do a reverse image search

Display pictures can be downloaded and saved, making identity theft prevalent on social media platforms like Facebook in the first place. We’ve even seen some pretend to be online influencers and celebrities to ask fans for money.

So, when in doubt, do a reverse image search to check the profile photo. 

To do this, right-click on the photo and choose “Search images with Google.” It will then show you the platforms where the photo was first used. If the person used a grabbed profile photo from another user, you would also see the profile of the original account.

Check photos and their dates

Fake accounts have a limited number of photos. Some can even have just one photo, which is a stolen profile picture. 

You will also notice the upload dates of the photos are similar. This means even if the content of the images is varied, they were mass-uploaded in one day. They do this so the profile’s timeline does not look empty.

Legitimate accounts have consistent uploads of pictures. Also, they usually have specific captions attached to them. 

Photos are also usually the only way you’ll be able to track the Facebook profile’s age. See when the oldest photo was taken. If it’s recent, then the account could also be recently created—a telltale sign of a scammer.

Check the account’s number of friends

If you see profiles with 0 to 10 friends, it’s usually a red flag. Legitimate users, even those who recently joined Facebook, can easily get around 20 friends in a week. 

Of course, if a profile has an excessively high friend count, like 3,000 friends or more, it may also indicate a fake or stolen account. To be sure, you will need to verify their identity—this is especially true if you’re in a transaction. 

Confirm lets you share digital IDs created with real ID verification. We use Persona, a globally-acclaimed identity checker, to verify the identity of all our users.

Check the number of likes on their posts

Believe it or not, there are bots on the platform that are programmed to like a certain number of pages on a given day. Thus, if the profile is operated by a professional identity thief, their posts might have a ridiculous amount of likes. 

If the people who liked the posts are also the same “people” who liked the previous post, they’re all just fake profiles. 

Similarly, if their posts don’t have likes, it could also be a red flag.

Browse through their recent social media activity

Fake social media accounts exhibit repetitive activity, meaning you will notice their posts resemble previous ones. Their recent posts can also be shared from other accounts. Usually, the content of the posts links to products they are selling or something similar.

Genuine accounts typically share posts about celebrations and human interests, like memes or reels. 

Moreover, fake accounts seldom have tagged posts from other accounts, and when they do, they tag 20+ people. The tagged profiles in these instances are typically not real users.

How To Report Fake Accounts On Facebook

If you come across a fraudulent identity on Facebook, do not hesitate to report it—even if it’s a person whose real identity you’re not familiar with. It’s taking that extra step, we know, but you’d be protecting others from being scammed.

To report fraudulent or impersonating accounts on Facebook, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Facebook profile of the account.
  2. Click the button with the three dots in it.
  3. Select “Find support or report.”
  4. Choose the problem that suits the profile (fake account, fraud or scam, fake name, etc.).
  5. Depending on the problem you choose, Facebook will ask for more information. Just fill those out.
  6. Click “Done.”

Remember, you can only report an account once. So, make sure you provide all the necessary data to support your report and help Facebook verify it efficiently. 

Based on our experience, Facebook promptly resolves cases involving identity theft—especially if the person they are impersonating is yourself or your friend. In fact, you can send them the real person’s profile URL, and they will automatically check the other account. Once they verify which one’s real (usually in two to three days), they take the fake one down.

You can also ask your friends or family to report an account if it’s one that’s impersonating you or an acquaintance. Facebook compiles other reports to verify their authenticity, so it may get the account taken down faster.

How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

You should be wary about not only fake accounts but also other people impersonating your own. Identity theft is usually a way for people to trick the person’s friends into scams and fish them for personal information.

To protect yourself from identity theft, practice the following tips:

Be selective in accepting friend requests

Gone are the days when it was considered “cool” to have many friends on Facebook. The most important thing you should do to protect yourself from identity theft is to only accept friend requests from people you know in real life. 

If you want to accept a request from a profile that has a mutual friend but whose name you’re not familiar with, contact your friend first. Ask them if they really know the person and if the specific account is authentic.

Clean your friends list every few months

Some of the accounts in your friends list are already inactive, which could be a sign that they are hacked. Some hackers use these accounts to monitor friends’ activities (like yours) in an effort to gain information. They then use these to commit identity theft and create fake accounts.

As such, we recommend you do a “friends list cleaning” once a year. Remove suspicious-looking accounts, including inactive ones. We even encourage you to remove acquaintances and people whom you have never spoken to in real life. 

Never share sensitive information anywhere

Never click on random links sent to you by suspicious-looking or unknown accounts. 

For instance, a random Facebook account may message you with a link that opens to an external site. The link can contain malware that gathers information from your active device. They can also ask you to fill out a survey, and once it is completed, they will give you a “gift.”

Phishing scams are especially prevalent in Marketplace transactions. For instance, a random Facebook account may message you with a link that opens to an external site. The link can contain malware that gathers information from your active device. They can also ask you to fill out a survey, and once it is completed, they will give you a “gift.”

So, unless your contact is using a reputable identity verification site like Confirm, double-check the sent link or ignore it altogether. Some sellers ask buyers to “verify” their identity using an online form. 

In fact, even when you’re sent a link to our website, we always encourage our users to be wary. Be sure the URL is correct down to its domain (.com).  

Remember, legitimate sellers don’t need sensitive information, like your age, social security number, or credit card information with anyone. The most they will need is a name, address (if shipping is involved), and your contact number. 

Use Confirm to verify each other’s identities. Since Confirm will only share the information you want them to know (such as your name and photo only), you control what you want to share.

Set your profile to private

Finally, make sure your Facebook profile is not visible to the public. Don’t use it to network, and if you must use it for business, create a page for your venture instead. Don’t use your personal account for public activities.

If your profile is public, identity thieves can see your pictures and posts even if you did not add them as friends. They can then mimic how you act with a fake profile. 

To set your Facebook profile to private, go to your Privacy Settings and customize the default settings. You can also limit your post visibility so older posts that were made public are now hidden. Check if your post settings are also set to “Friends” and not “Public.”

Summary

Facebook can be a dangerous place if you do not guard your personal information. Be wary of suspicious-looking accounts, and do not entertain them when they contact you. File a report when necessary. A single verified report also helps with the security of other users on the platform.

At the same time, do not go on a mission of reporting random accounts. Some suspicious-looking accounts may turn out to be authentic ones. If you keep reporting real accounts, you will get blocked on Facebook. 

Let Confirm be your safeguard when sharing information online. By having control over the things you want to share publicly, you can interact with anyone with confidence.

FAQs

Can an account be taken down due to mass reports?

The number of reports does not equate to the automatic removal of an account. The reports are individually reviewed by Facebook. Only when it is confirmed to be a violation of the Community Standards is it removed.

Can I report identity theft on Facebook Messenger?

Yes, you can. To report identity theft on Facebook Messenger, open your chat with the person and click on the button that has an “i.” Scroll down and tap the report button. Select a problem, then follow the next instructions. Do not forget to click “Done” to file the report.

Can I click on a link a friend sent me?

It depends. If you were actually having a conversation with your friend and the link relates to it, then you can click on it. However, do not click the link if your friend sends it randomly, especially when the URL looks suspicious. Your friend might have been hacked, and the link can be dangerous.