My identity was stolen on Facebook - here is how to make sure it doesn't happen to you

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Thanks to Facebook I resigned from my job.

Slated the company I work for.

Spread stories about maggots on my colleagues’ desks. And claimed none of them were being paid.

To be fair, this would actually make a great premise for a novel.

If your identity is stolen, report itIf your identity is stolen, report it
If your identity is stolen, report it

It was certainly fiction.

I hadn’t resigned.

I’ve never seen a maggot.

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And the last thing I heard my colleagues’ mortgages were not in arrears.

Dr Max Hashem Eiza, Lecturer in Computing (Computer and Network Security) at the University of Central LancashireDr Max Hashem Eiza, Lecturer in Computing (Computer and Network Security) at the University of Central Lancashire
Dr Max Hashem Eiza, Lecturer in Computing (Computer and Network Security) at the University of Central Lancashire

In reality I’d had my identity stolen on Facebook.

In an unsophisticated manner, to be fair, but stolen nonetheless and used to spread misinformation in a worryingly believable manner.

Enough to prompt a flurry of messages inquiring what was going on and why I was leaving my job.

All the identity fraudster needed was my picture and my name and the inherent trust we all put in social media at our peril.

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Fortunately this incident caused me very little damage and in retrospect a great deal of hilarity in the newsroom.

The damage was limited as the Facebook investigation team acted swiftly to disable the false account on my request.

But the idea of somebody stealing your identity is terrifying - however it is done. Once created, a fake profile can say anything, do anything and potentially cause untold damage to reputation and relationships and that’s not even touching upon the criminal potential.

Yet we all put ourselves out there to strangers, sharing our lives, our loves and critical information which can easily be replicated and stolen.

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Security is higher than ever but it feels the spammers, the identity thieves and the hackers are all one step ahead as most of use are fairly laid-back about the issue.

There is no point being paranoid or our lives would not be worth living.

But there are security steps we can put in place as Dr Max Eiza, Lecturer in Computing (Computer and Network Security) at the University of Central Lancashire explains.

“These days, we have more information about ourselves online than anywhere else," he says.

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“However, we can take some countermeasures to ensure we’re safe and secure.

“Less is more.

"This is a golden rule online because less information, less photos mean we’re safer from any potential online attack.

“Privacy settings. It’s important to have a look and make sure only few information is available for the public.

“One platform is enough. You can add for example. ‘ I have no other accounts anywhere’. This could help but it won’t prevent identify theft 100%.

“More is needed from social media companies

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“But again, it’s challenging because sometimes we want to be public.

“Don’t accept invitations, connections, downloads, links from people you don’t know or sometimes know

“It’s always better to double check with whomever trying to contact you.”

Advice from Facebook:

1. Protect your password. Don’t use your Facebook password anywhere else online, and never share it with other people. Your password should be hard to guess, so don’t include your name or common words.

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2.Never share your login information. Scammers may create fake websites that look like Facebook and ask you to login with your email and password. Always check the website’s URL before you enter your login information. When in doubt, type into your browser to get to Facebook. Don’t forward emails from Facebook to other people, since they may have sensitive information about your account.

3.Log out of Facebook when you use a computer you share with other people. If you forget, you can log out remotely.

4.Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Scammers may create fake accounts to friend people. Becoming friends with scammers might allow them to spam your timeline, tag you in posts and send you malicious messages.

5.Watch out for malicious software Malicious software can cause damage to a computer, server or computer network. Learn the signs of an infected computer or device and how to remove malicious software. Keep your web browser up to date and remove suspicious applications or browser add-ons.

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6.Never click suspicious links, even if they appear to come from a friend or a company you know This includes links on Facebook (example: on posts) or in emails. Keep in mind that Facebook will never ask you for your password in an email. If you see a suspicious link on Facebook, report it.

7.If you suspect you or a friend has been hacked or subject to identity fraud or you want to report a troll please report it on Facebook.

Advice from Lancashire Police:

Online fraud

Most of us use the internet without any problems. However anyone can fall prey to cyber criminals if they do not take basic security precautions when online. Follow this advice to help protect yourself and your family online:

l If you get an email from an unknown source, do not open it and do not click on any attachments.

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l No bank or card issuer will contact you by email and ask you to enter all your personal and financial details online. If you receive a message like this, report it to your bank, then delete it.

l Make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date.

l Never follow the messages from anti-virus software you encounter whilst on the internet. Only follow the anti-virus instructions from the software you have installed on your computer.

l Ensure that your software is up to date.

Reporting online fraud

If you suspect you may have been a victim of fraud or online crime contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.

The Action Fraud website has lots of information about different types of frauds and scams and how to protect yourself and get safe online.

Look it up at

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Action FraudCyber bullyingAre you, or is someone you know, being ‘cyberbullied’?

Cyber bullying can happen to any of us, it is very hurtful and distressing and must be taken seriously by all concerned.

Some kinds of cyber bullying are criminal offences, such as harassment or threats, these should be reported directly to the police on 101 and the offender will be dealt with accordingly.

However, it is important to remember that bullying can be harmful even when it falls short of breaking the law, and the police are not necessarily the most appropriate people to help.

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If you feel you are being cyberbullied, it is important to let someone else know, do not suffer in silence. If you’re a young person, then speak to an adult, ideally a parent or teacher.

Remember that many people might not understand how your social networks and apps actually work, so try to explain clearly what is happening and how it affects you.

The website Bullying UK has lots of excellent advice and information for people who may have suffered from online bullying.

You can also visit our young person’s website Trust Ed where you will find lots of excellent information for both youngsters and parents alike.