Consumer Alert: A scammer has cloned/hacked my deceased mother’s Facebook account. Here’s what you need to know so it won’t happen to you
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – This Consumer Alert takes a look at the safety of your loved one’s Facebook account. Do you know what happens to a loved one’s page after they pass away? A lot of viewers reach out to me when their page is hacked or cloned. It’s unfortunate but having your Facebook page hacked or cloned is not terribly uncommon. Often getting your page back is an arduous process. Countless viewers have complained to me about Facebook’s customer service, or lack thereof. In fact, it’s difficult to find any contact number for Facebook’s help pages. he one I found on the websites “Pissed Consumer” and “Elliott Report” directs you to an automated message.
“Hello, welcome to Meta,” the automated voice said when I dialed 650-453-4800. “For support for any of our products including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Meta Quest, please visit meta.com/help and select the help center for the product you’re interested in. Please note, that we are unable to provide telephone support at this time.”
I was calling because I’ve gotten phone calls from family members telling me that they got a Facebook request from my mother. But here’s the thing. My beautiful mother died four years ago, and after her death, I sent Facebook a copy of her death certificate to turn her account into a legacy page. A legacy page informs others that the person has died, and according to Facebook, “Keeps it secure by preventing anyone from logging into it.”
But it appears that hasn’t stopped someone from either hacking or cloning my mother’s page. And I’m powerless because I don’t have administrative control of her account.
So, I looked up memorialized accounts in the help section. Facebook’s help page says, “We strongly suggest setting a legacy contact so your profile can be managed once its memorialized. But the owner of the account has to choose your legacy contact and notify Facebook before you die. And neither my mother nor I were aware that needed to be done before her death.
I decided to write about this experience because Facebook hacking and cloning unfortunately happens and others undoubtedly have suffered through this experience. So, of course I reached out to Facebook this morning for answers and had not heard from them by the time our 5 p.m. show aired on Monday. And when I tried to report the fake friend requests to Facebook through their online means, I couldn’t do it without the link to the cloned account, which I don’t have access to.
Of course, I’ll continue to pursue this and give you answers when I get them. Clearly, the lesson for all of us is that we need to choose a legacy contact for our Facebook accounts and follow the directions for notifying Facebook. For directions to add, change, or remove your legacy contact, click here.