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Beware of friend requests on social media

8 May 2018

Fake profiles are a common social media scam. They might be hard to spot but they can also be easy to avoid.

Hackers use a common method of making fake copies of existing accounts to get access to private profiles. Because you know the person, you are more likely to accept their request, even though you are already connected to them.

When you have hundreds of friends and connections on social media, it can be hard to keep track of who you are already friends with.

Your connections might also decide to take a break from social media and delete their account, only to create a new account a few months later.

This can often make the scam hard to spot.

Staying safe

  • This type of scam is easy to avoid by following a few simple steps:
  • If you receive a request from someone you know, check your connections to see if you are already friends with them.
  • If you're unsure, ask them a question they should know the answer to, such as where you met or who introduced you.
  • Check with your already connected contact, to see   if they have created a new profile and are trying to connect with you.

What to do if you spot a fake profile

  • Notify the person who is being impersonated, so they can warn their contact list.
  • Report the fake profile to the social media platform immediately. You can do this by clicking the 'report' option. On Facebook the report option is under the [. . .] button on each profile.

How to avoid having your profile used by scammers

  • The safest way to avoid being a victim of this scam is to protect your social media profile and personal information.
  • Avoid having a public account and use the platform's security settings to protect your information.
  • Do not accept friend requests from people you don't know.
  • Do not use social media platforms that do not offer security controls.
  • Talk to your friends and family about their privacy settings to help keep them safe.

More information

Read more about socialising safely online.