It’s exciting to see a Friend Request at the top of your Facebook page. You’re likely to accept Friend Requests without thinking twice, especially if it’s a friend or a name you recognize. You may even be thinking that there’s no real harm in accepting all Friend Requests that come your way. Having more friends means you’re more popular…right?
What you may not know is that with name, birth date, education, and work history available online, it’s relatively easy for anyone to create a duplicate of any existing user. Watch out, as cybercriminals could potentially be impersonating you or someone you know for the sole purpose of duping you and your friends!
Keep reading to learn what cybercriminals can do with phony accounts. We’ll share things to keep in mind as you decide whether or not to accept a Friend Request.
What Cybercriminals Do with Phony Accounts
Facebook is a treasure chest of personal information. If you have a private account, when you accept a Friend Request, the information and pictures that were once restricted from public view become visible to your new “friend”. Because cybercriminals understand that a lot of people accept requests without thinking twice, the chances of someone accepting a request from a phony account is very high. Once cybercriminals have this bounty of information and pictures, it makes it all the easier for them to commit identity theft or other forms of crime.
Unless a user has set up their privacy setting, whenever they create a post on their own or a friend’s Timeline, it is made public on the News Feed. With a phony account, cybercriminals have the ability to spread malicious links to a substantial number of people. Once the malicious link is published onto a public News Feed, there is a high likelihood that someone will eventually click on the malicious link, where they will be directed to sites compromised by malware or phishing sites designed to trick users into revealing financial credentials.
In case identity theft and distributing malicious links weren’t bad enough, cybercriminals create phony accounts to stalk people. Phony accounts help cybercriminals stay under the radar, as the person they’re stalking are likely to accept the Friend Request without thinking twice.
Keep Your Eyes Open
Check your Friends List:
In the event you receive a Friend Request from someone you’re already friends with, take a few minutes to search for that person in your friends list. Also, sift through the profile to see if there are signs that the account isn’t legitimate. If the Friend Request is from someone you consider an acquaintance, it’s obviously more difficult to determine if the account is legitimate or not. But with a close friend, make sure to get in touch with them if you receive a second Friend request – if it’s a fake, the account needs to be reported to Facebook.
Look For Odd Behavior:
Did a Facebook Friend suddenly message you with a strange request, asking for money or to click on a suspicious link? Be careful, as this could be a sign that you’re being spammed. Though this is not a surefire way to indicate an account is phony, it’s important to take notice of odd or questionable behavior. Profiles flooding the News Feed with spam or malicious links could be the result of a hacked account or compromised by a clickjacking scam.
With Facebook it can be a little tricky to determine whether an account or a Friend Request is legitimate or not. Accepting a Friend Request means you’ll add another number to your friend count, but be cautious about who you accept, as more harm than benefit can come from doing so. The next time you receive a Friend Request, take a few minutes and do a little sleuthing before clicking on that “Accept” button.