Many Facebook users are finding they can't log in to their accounts because someone has hacked their page, leaving the user without access.
One Tri-State woman is struggling to get her Facebook page -- and her friends -- back.
Cathy Ebert has used Facebook for over a decade to keep in touch with old college friends and colleagues from years as a hospital researcher. One day, she tried to log in to her account, but was denied access.
"One day I went to get on Facebook, and was denied access to my page," Ebert said.
Someone had locked her out, shutting off Ebert's contact with dozens of former colleagues scattered around the world. When she searched for herself, she was shocked at what turned up.
"It was my profile picture, with an erroneous address and someone named Thomas Wilson."
More and more complaints of hacking
A recent NPR report said Facebook account hacking appears widespread this year, but Facebook will not confirm that there has been an uptick in hacked accounts.
Experts are not sure if users are falling victim to phishing scams-- where you open up an email that appears to be from Facebook -- or if they are victims of automated hacking bots.
The big problem is, when your Facebook account is hacked -- unlike your bank account -- there is no one to call. Facebook does not offer phone help, unless you purchase a $299 Oculus VR headset, which Facebook owns. Even then, the company only offers phone support for the headset.
Googling "Facebook phone support" can lead you to a fake phone line, where you will again be scammed, just as with fake Microsoft and Apple phone support lines.
If an account has been hacked, Facebook instructs you to go to a special page, then use an automated system that requests your driver's license and photo.
Ebert said she went through this process, but it didn't work.
"They asked me to send up a photo of myself, which I did," she said. "But after I did that I found my page was shut down, all access denied and that was the end of it."
How to protect yourself
To make sure this doesn't happen to you, cybersecurity experts recommend people do the following:
- Set up two-factor authentication, so you get a text if anyone tries to change your password
- Never use the same password on Facebook and other sites
- Don't open emails that appear to come from Facebook. They are usually phishing scams
- Get email addresses for old friends. Don't just rely on their Facebook profiles.
Ebert said she is smart enough not to click on phishing emails, so she has no idea how it happened.
"I guess it can happen to anybody," she said.
WCPO has passed Ebert's information on to Facebook in the hope they can help her. But follow the above-mentioned tips from cybersecurity experts, though, so you don't waste your money.
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