Help! My Facebook account’s been hacked

By | July 18th, 2013

PiXXart / Shutterstock.com
PiXXart / Shutterstock.com

Jan Walker’s friends are getting emails from someone else pretending to be her. Now Facebook has gone into radio silence and won’t help her shut down the impostor account. How do you get rid of your evil online twin?

Question: I’m writing to you because someone recently opened a new Facebook account under my name and I can’t get Facebook to close it. That person has contacted my friends and tried to defraud them. I’ve enclosed a document with the correspondence.

As you can see, it seems that some of my friends have come perilously close to getting defrauded. I attempted to report and disable the impersonated account, but accidentally entered the wrong confirmation number when I received a verification email from Facebook. I asked for a resend, but the message says several attempts to resend have failed. I never received any new number.

I’m trying to get Facebook to either disable the fraudulent account or resend a new
confirm code to my cell number. Can you help me? — Jan Walker, Chicago

Answer: I reviewed the screen shots between the alleged scammer and your friends, and I agree — this looks bad.


It appears that someone tried to clone your Facebook presence by opening a fake “Jan Walker” account and inviting all of your friends. That person used your profile photo and other personal pictures to make your friends think it was you. Then, that person began soliciting your friends with scammy offers.

Fortunately, your friends sensed something was wrong and contacted the real you, then you got in touch with Facebook. An enormous site like Facebook tries to automate everything, so that after you’ve verified that an account may be fraudulent, it moves to a queue where someone can investigate your claim and make that determination.

Related story:   The 13 best Facebook travel sites of 2013

By mis-typing your verification code, you stopped that message from ever reaching someone at Facebook who could help. Facebook should allow you to reach it by phone when e-mail doesn’t work, but it offered no practical way for you to do that, unfortunately. Remember, Facebook also offers a way to keep your photos private, so only you and your friends can view them. If you’d changed your privacy settings, it might have been impossible to clone your account.

I wrote about Facebook a few weeks ago, so pardon me for repeating myself. Contacting someone at Facebook is not easy, as you learned. Although the executives are listed on its site, they don’t really offer a way to reach someone who can help you at a supervisor or management level. To add to the confusion, email addresses follow at least two conventions: either firstinitiallastname@fb.com or firstname.lastname@fb.com. So you have to try both.

Let me also add this to my previous thoughts on Facebook: A quick look at its scores by the American Customer Satisfaction Index suggests that most users feel the same way you do, which is that Facebook needs to improve its service. Facebook received a 61 out of a possible 100 points — basically, a failing grade.



  • Travelling Gerry

    A better way to resolve this is to get off of Facebook entirely, which I intend to do, once I can figure out how to do this. If a few million people left Facebook (you show that 96% Facebook users really do not like their business practices), they will respond faster.

    For a business like Facebook, it is the money that talk & is listened to much more than individual customers. We really do not need Facebook or any other social media that presumes itself to be God.

  • mytimetotravel

    I don’t know how to vote, since I have never had a Facebook account. I plan to keep it that way, as I value my privacy. What’s left of it.

  • rwm

    Mistyped the verification code? Maybe Copy & Paste would have been better….

  • Extra mail

    That seems to be a problem – you can’t really ever delete your account. I, too, wish I had never started with Facebook and would love to get out.

  • John Keahey

    Always keep in mind that we are not FaceBook’s customers; we are its product. Advertisers are its customers.

  • Dane Carpenter

    Facebook is like being in an 9 year relationship that was great in the beginning, but you don’t want to end it because you’ve invested so much time and effort into the relationship. It would seem like a waste to just end it now.

    At first in 2004 it was a private relationship that only you and your college friends knew about. You might spend a few hours a week together in casual relationship, but both parties had their own homes and would always back to. Then in 2006 your significant other (Facebook) suddenly wants to know you all your other friends and family. Then your significant other (Facebook) starts pushing you away the other person (MySpace) you’ve been casually seeing. Slowly, you start trusting Facebook and start letting it hang out with your friends. You let Facebook have a drawer (Facebook integration on your phone) in your dresser. Your significant other Facebook has started putting pictures (Contact photos) in those empty picture frames in the house. Then out of nowhere Facebook suddenly starts sharing all of your and your friend’s secrets to strangers. Facebook apologizes and you stay with Facebook. You forgive Facebook, but deep down you want to break up with Facebook.

    I would love to quit Facebook. However, it seems like software companies has made it an integral part of their operating systems. Windows 8, Android, iOS, and OS X seem like they would have a big void in them if you didn’t keep using Facebook.

  • $22654045

    Amen

  • Facebook makes our personal data available while hiding their own. Can anyone say “hypocrite”?

    You might have gotten a faster response if you contacted your local police department and filed an identity theft complaint. At a minimum the police know who to contact.

    Both of Chris’s last posts deal with identity theft on Facebook. Shame on them for being so hard to reach in those circumstances.

  • That’s true. I think if there were a way to quit Facebook and join a more open-source platform not controlled by a single company, I’d do it in a heartbeat. We are all slaves to social media.

  • Charlotte V Nash

    My Facebook account was hacked too some months back. It took many emails to Facebook before they finally restored it back to me. My advice to anyone who is having the same problems, don’t give up!!! Just keep buggin them with emails like I did, you’ll get your account!!!

  • pauletteb

    If you don’t like Facebook, don’t use it. It’s really that simple. If you do use it, make sure your settings limit who can see your information. Personally, FB has helped me reconnect and remain connected with several folks I thought lost to the past. That being said, I agree that contacting the FB hierarchy is nearly impossible . . . and it’s crucial that you pay attention to their myriad policy/privacy changes. I check my settings at least once a week to make sure only my friends have access.

  • Sara8020

    Don’t forget about your photos when you delete. If I remember correctly, photos you have on FB are actually FB’s “property” (in the fine print somewhere), which they possibly are allowed to use for adverts I think, so anything you have there they basically get to keep if you delete your account. I’m unsure what happens if you first delete your photos from your account, if that helps or not (naïve me is hoping it does).
    I believe after that if you delete your account it goes into a “holding period” where it’ll sit for a loooooooong time, you know, just in case you would decide to come back, after all. I can understand them for that, though, I can imagine with that many users there’s a lot that delete and then come back after a while and would send requests to FB “could I get my stuff back?”. I used to work with a company that has a couple of games on FB and that was one of the things we had to do every so often – people who had reset their game accounts before removing the game, and then changed their minds and wanted it back.

  • emanon256

    I’m sort of inclined to believe that since its a free service, what does it matter if people are not satisfied. No one has to use FaceBook if they don’t want to. As others have mentioned, of course their customer service is bad, the advertisers are their customers, not us. I did vote that yes, they are too difficult to contact based on this story and the last story. I personally have never had to contact them. I have my account locked down, I check my privacy settings regularly, and I decide when I am searchable and not and what one picture people can see if they search. Also, Many people fall for phishing scams and that’s how their accounts get hacked. I try to follow the rule of never clicking a link in an e-mail, if I want to go to the site, I go directly to it.

    While not what happened in this case, there are 7 Billion people in the world, and many people have duplicate names. I just searched for Jan Walker on FaceBook and stopped scrolling after 8 pages of people named Jan Walker. So I don’t think FaceBook actively tries to stop duplicate accounts since so many people have the same name.

  • $22654045

    Physiologically you may be right.

    However technically it’s possible and rather simple. No longer having a Facebook account I can’t give you the detailed method. Try looking at this

    http://www.facebook.com/help/359046244166395/

    They give yoy a 2 week waiting period to change your mind. If after 2 weeks you haven’t checked in your account no longer exists.

    Worked like a charm.

  • Scott

    I know I’m going to miss things coming up that are only posted via FB, but I’ve given up with the entire thing and set my account for deletion . Of course, FB doesn’t even make that easy: Your account lingers in a deactivated purgatory for two weeks before being (theoretically) deleted…y’know, just in case one changes his/her mind!

    I’m in purgatory for a few more days, but then ends my six years with FB.

  • JenniferFinger

    Rule of thumb: Always, always, always check your Facebook settings whenever you log in, because they are always springing changes in privacy and notification settings on users without advance notice.

    Whether or not you should give it up-if you don’t like it, don’t post. But for many, it’s hard to give it up completely no matter how screwed up it or its management are. It has become a too-big-to-fail-or-close-social media network that is so deeply engrained in our culture that I don’t see it going away any time soon.

  • To all of you leaving FB: I’m envious. I have to be there, since that’s where I get many of my cases. If there were a way to leave, I probably would. Eventually, enough people will feel the same way, and it’ll be game over for the social media phenomenon.

  • Michael

    TG, you can permanently delete your Facebook account if you wish to. Go to: https://www.facebook.com/help/359046244166395/ (as was given by Maxwell_Demeon) and look under: “Deleting Accounts” then go to the bottom of the 2nd paragraph where it says: “Then, if you’d like your account permanently deleted with no option for recovery, log into your account and fill out this form.” Click on the “fill out this form” link and fill it out.
    But please remember that if you take this option then your FB account is gone forever.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil,” and I’m convinced that Facebook’s is “BE evil.” They sure do a great job of it.

  • Michael

    Mr. Elliott, you were able to contact Facebook and got them to “disabled the impostor account immediately” so why can’t you list how you were able to contact them in case someone else has a problem so they can contact FB directly?

  • Grant Ritchie

    You just click “Yes” or “No” and then click “Vote.”

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Highly doubtful. Something else will supplant FB, but it’s awfully nice to be able to keep up with old friends, distant relatives, etc. Beats the heck out of waiting for a Christmas letter once a year.

  • mytimetotravel

    Oh please! I don’t know how to answer the question, of course I know how to physically vote. *&^%$

  • Grant Ritchie

    I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. Forgive me? :-)

  • AH

    the biggest problem is that most people never even look at their privacy settings, they simply accept the default “everyone”, and that’s how accounts are “hacked”. it’s like leaving your front door wide open then wondering why someone has come into your house and stolen something!

    something else many people don’t do is set up a dedicated email address “just” for their facebook account. once you’ve compromised that email address, all havoc breaks loose – the intruder has access to all of your email contacts, not just your facebook friends.

    it’s mostly about plain, old, ordinary online security, yet the people who don’t pay any attention to that, are usually the first ones to be passing around that latest facebook “scare” post. change your privacy settings, folks!

  • Cybrsk8r

    WOW! Do I ever feel good right now. I never had a Facebook account.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Way to go, mytime! I, too, am one of the anonymous few. I just don’t see any real reason why the world needs to know where I am and what I’m doing every 15 minutes, and whether I happen to be constipated at the moment.

  • BMG4ME

    I had exactly the same thing happen to me, a friend contacted Facebook and the account was disabled very quickly. This could be mostly avoided by changing your privacy settings to only allow friends to see your friends. I say “mostly” because a hacked friend’s account could also be used to do what was done, the same could also happen if you are not careful with whom you accept as friends.