A new friend request…what a great feeling, right? Don’t clap your hands in glee and merrily hit the Accept button, though. Otherwise you could set yourself up for trouble. In the age of social media, Facebook friend requests—and the scams they spawn—are an integral part of our online lives. From recognizing the fraud to knowing how to deal with it, here are 3 tips to avoid fake Facebook friend requests.
The fake Facebook account
Setting up a fake account on Facebook is a quick and simple process. It takes no special skills, just a willingness to put in a little time. Here’s how it’s done.
- Create a new email address using a service such as Yahoo Mail or Gmail. This email address is how Facebook authenticates a new user.
- Find a profile on Facebook to copy and grab as much information as possible. The idea is to make the new account look real, which means there should be some photos, personal information, etc.
- Begin sending friend requests.
Tip 1: Recognizing fake Facebook friend requests
With fake accounts being so easy to set up, the trick to recognizing one is the ‘authentic factor’ of the account. To appear authentic, there needs to be personal information, photos, etc. When a friend request comes in, visiting the profile is the only way to check them out.
Here are a few things to look for:
- How long have they been on Facebook? Find out easily by checking the Timeline for how many posts this person has added to their Timeline and when they added those posts.
- Have they posted photos? How many? When?
- Do they already have other friends? A new account will have only a few friends.
Tip 2: Why is this person asking to be your friend?
It could be because you’re incredibly popular—that’s heartwarming. Or maybe someone just wants to scam you. That sucks.
You can find much of the reason behind a new friend request in the requestor’s profile. The two red flags to watch out for are: is this someone looking for romance, or is this is an existing friend with a new, duplicate profile? If either of these flags are waving, be especially cautious.
Tip 3: The immediate reply
You checked out the new friend request. You thought it looked legit. And you accepted. The next thing that happens is a message to the effect of ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ It’s easy for these people to engage in a conversation. They’ve done it a hundred times before and know every trick—ask leading questions, slowly make things more personal, get the subject comfortable before getting to the real reason for the contact—money.
I make it a point to check out every friend request I receive. Most of the time, the requests fail on the first step. Sometimes, they make it to the second. And I even had one recently get to the message stage.
At that point, I immediately unfriended the person and reported them to Facebook. At least that way I knew I hadn’t assisted them in finding more victims.
Did you see last month’s scam tip? It was Why does Amazon condone scam emails?