How to Stop Spammers From Stealing Your Facebook Identity

How to Stop Spammers From Stealing Your Facebook Identity

by Kerry Scott on 17 July 2014

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If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen something like this lately:

Someone is posing as Jane Alvarez on Facebook. If you get a friend request from her, don’t accept. It’s a fake!

If I could find a way to get a dollar every time I’ve seen this lately, I could hire a peon to type blog posts for me. It’s an epidemic. Someone steals your name and profile picture, and then sends friend requests to all of your existing friends. Your existing friends see that friend request, and they accept, because they know and like you. Then the scammer sends them a direct message asking them for money, or asking them to click on some sketchy website, or whatever. It’s a problem, and it’s really creepy when it happens to you.

Here’s the thing, though: Crooks can take your photo and your name, but they’ll only do so if they can send friend requests to all of your friends. If your friend list isn’t available, you’re useless to them, because they need to be able to contact people who trust you. That means hiding your friend list so it can’t be seen by strangers is your best (and easiest) defense against this type of scam. There’s really no good reason to have your friends list available to the public anyway. It’s good for scammers, but it does nothing for you.

Here’s how to hide your Facebook friend list:

Go to your own profile page. Right under your cover photo, you’ll see links to About, Photos, and Friends. Click Friends.



On the far right, you’ll see a little pencil. Click it. That will give you a link to Edit Privacy. Click that too.



You’ll get a pop-up window. The first option will be about who can see your Friends list. You can click the drop-down menu on the left to choose Public, Friends, or Only Me. Mine is set to Friends, because I’m fine with my friends being able to see each other (that way my genealogy friends, HR friends, real-life friends and family, and old classmates can find and connect with each other). If you really want to be stealth, you can set it to Only Me. If it’s set to Public, though, anyone can see it. That makes you a target for scammers.



That’s all you have to do. Problem solved!

Photo by Don Hankins

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily Garber July 17, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Actually, I have found friend lists very helpful in my genealogy research when I have tried to locate a living relative of someone on my tree. The friend list often includes that person’s relatives’ names and confirms for me that I have to correct person.


Kerry Scott July 18, 2014 at 8:12 am

I agree. I like it when other people leave them public so I can use them. But I don’t blame people when they close them off, because for them, the risk is greater than the reward.


Jana Last July 18, 2014 at 10:08 am


I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

Have a wonderful weekend!


Kerry Scott July 18, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Thank you!!


Susan Partlan July 18, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Done! Thanks Kerry :).


Debi Austen July 20, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Thanks, Kerry. I thought I had myself pretty locked down but I missed this step!


JessB July 26, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Wow, this was a great tip, thanks! I’ve kept my list to just friends now, and I do feel a bit better for it. It’s a bit of a horrid thing to have to be worried about, but in this case, I’d rather take steps to protect myself.


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