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Facebook Hijack: How to protect yourself
CINCINNATI (Joe Webb) -- Social media is a great way to connect with friends but it's also a way for scam artists, pretending to be friends, to sink their claws into you.
For the last year or so, scammers have cloned legitimate Facebook pages and used them to trick people into sharing information. Two days ago, someone lifted my Facebook cover photo and profile picture and created another Joe Webb Facebook page. They then sent out friend requests to dozens of my Facebook friends.
Thank God, I have some smart friends who noticed this new "Joe Webb" had just joined Facebook and the old Joe, me, was still there. They warned me that I had been hacked.
Facebook fixed it quickly because it's something they see all the time but it scared me. The only comfort was knowing I was not alone. It's a helpless feeling when your face and your name is used to try and trick your friends. We went to Boot Camp Digital Tuesday for advice on how to avoid these scams. They weren't shocked by my story.
Juan Valle of Boot Camp Digital said, "I wasn't surprised at all. In fact I had two friend requests from friends I've been friends with for years on Facebook, 3-4 years."
A vigilant friend warned him it was a clone and he denied the request. In my case, one friend lured the scammer into a conversation and got screen grabs where, using my name and face, he's providing an e-mail address for her to apply for some sort of grant. She didn't bite.
"Usually there's malicious intent there so it's somebody who's either wanting access to your friends to access their accounts or they're hoping to post some spammy links that send people to different websites and things like that," said Boot Camp Digital's CEO, Krista Neher.
So what do you do? Change your password and don't use the same password for every social network you use. Make the password complex. Check your account for any suspicious posts, especially links.
"Go through your newsfeed, look at videos that have been posted and links to other applications. Anything you didn't actually post be sure you delete it immediately," Neher said.
More than anything, be suspicious like my friends were. Be cautious what links you click on when you're on the web.
Neher continued, "Most of the time when accounts are compromised, somebody clicked on a link that was posted by a spammer. Then click on a link that is intended to make you go somewhere and give up your password."
And if you're on Facebook, or any other site, and click on a link that asks you to re-login, don't. This is often a trick to steal your password. Limit the information you put on Facebook. Accounts that include birth dates, addresses and phone numbers put you at serious risk when they are hacked. The simplest thing to do is have a good password and change it periodically.
Passwords need to be complex. You can go online and Google passwords. It'll show you the top 500 passwords used by people. If your password is one of those, change it. Hackers will figure it out.
Follow Joe Webb on Twitter @joewebbwkrc and LIKE him on Facebook