Consumer Alert: Has your Facebook page been hacked? Don’t call Facebook

Consumer Alert: Facebook account security

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Today’s Consumer Alert takes a look at the safety of your Facebook account. I started investigating this when my mother’s memorialized page was compromised. When someone dies, Facebook can memorialize the account to keep it secure and assure that no one can log into it. So, when I lost my mother four years ago, I sent Facebook a copy of her death certificate in the hope of protecting her account from hacking.

But it apparently provided little protection.  I know that because a few days ago, my mother’s friends started getting friend requests from what looks like her account. This should not have happened. My mother’s account clearly identifies it as a memorialized account at the top and bottom of the page. Not even I can log into her page, but perhaps a hacker has done just that.

The hacking and cloning of Facebook user pages have been ongoing problems that a number of investigative reporters have written about of late. Facebook has 3 billion active users and Instagram has 2 billion. Think about the expense of providing customer service for all those users. Kristen Grind, an investigative reporter with the Wall Street Journal, says Facebook has chosen to provide little to no customer service at all.

Because of that, in the words of a Slate reporter, “a weird ecosystem of shady dealers has emerged who prey on people who’ve been hacked.”

That’s what I discovered when we posted this story on our station, WHEC-TV’s, Facebook page. We were inundated with messages like these from folks promising a quick recovery of my mother’s hacked page.  And as an investigative reporter, I did just that to find out what would happen.  I messaged a guy who has his own account recovery Facebook page. in a text exchange, he told me recovery of the page would cost just $30.

He wrote, “I am going to purchase a code from web dek (sic) cyber security. I am going to use the code to break the hacker’s gmail and password then link up another one.”

Yes, shady indeed. Very often, hacking victims pay one of these so-called fix-it guys only to be victimized again.  And this is a situation of Facebook’s making.  Facebook has not answered any of my emails, but suddenly all those fake friend requests from my mother’s account disappeared. It looks like Facebook has fixed the problem but has not addressed my many questions about its security.

This I know for sure.  Just like you create a will, you need to also decide who you want to have access to your Facebook account after your death.  Click here to name a legacy contact who will have administrative control of your account after you pass away.