CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: How to protect your Facebook from hackers

Security experts say it's becoming increasingly common: Facebook users locked out of their accounts and their followers and customers getting scammed
Updated: Jul. 13, 2022 at 6:00 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Imagine you’re locked out of your Facebook page and lose access to everything; or even worse, your Facebook is hacked your followers get scammed.

In a Consumer First Alert, Tammy Elliott asked experts how to protect from a Facebook hacker.

Local victims of Facebook hacking are searching for answers.

“I’m just frustrated because there’s no way to get a hold of Facebook,” says Pamela May.

Aubree Leitermann says, “It was pretty frustrating because of all the messages we got.”

May says, “I got six notifications so far of people who were scammed out of money and I’m sure there’s many more out there.”

May and Leitermann say they wish they could get to talk to an actual person at Facebook. A recording states that the social media network does not offer phone support at this time.

Consumer First Alert has tried a media email listed for Facebook multiple times. We’ve yet to receive a response for this story.

We took our questions to identity theft and cyber security experts.

“And this runs the gamut: Instagram, Facebook, other online social media accounts. It’s happening on a regular basis and it is a very big problem,” says Eva Velasquez, President and CEO, Identity Theft Resource Center.

She attributes much of it to easy or re-used passwords.

“When we as users re-use the same easy passwords we make it easier for thieves to get into our other accounts,” Velasquez says.

Molly Vollrath is a security analyst at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

“So they’re able to guess them or password crack them,” Vollrath says.

Tammy Elliott: “How common is this?”

Molly Vollrath: “Facebook hacking is very common. A lot of it stems from phishing.”

“What criminals will do is send out a phishing email pretending to be Facebook saying, ‘Hey validate your account or update your settings and log in here.’ You’ll click a link and see a legitimate looking Facebook page that will ask you to enter your user name and password. So it’s that simple for them to take it from you because you’re giving it to them in that phishing,” Vollrath says.

Vollrath says it is key to lock down your Facebook Security settings.

“What we’re really recommending is a password that’s 14 characters in length,” says Vollrath. “And we say to get away from a password and get into a pass phrase.”

Pad your password by adding extra symbols and numbers between the letters of your pass phrase.

Add another layer of security with two-factor authentication.

“This is something we say to all of our users. If you’re storing your personal information anywhere online it should be protected by the second factor or you shouldn’t be using the website at this point, Vollrath says.

Users can get a text code to their phone.

Vollrath recommends using an authentication app. Every time you log into Facebook it will send a prompt from your phone to log in.

“All these authentication apps are free to download from the App Store to your phone. Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator are great free ones to use,” Vollrath says.

Set up authorized devices you use for Facebook. That includes your personal phone or computer.

“Then Facebook can alert you if an unauthorized device is trying to log in as you and that’s another alerting red flag for you,” Vollrath says.

Victims of Facebook hacking say they’ve upgraded security settings.

Pamela May’s case is far from fixed. She’s still locked out of her page. May has filed complaints with Fond du Lac Police, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, the Better Business Bureau, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

May says her customers are getting scammed.

Facebook has decided against taking the page down.

“I just wish Facebook would have a better system,” May says. “I wish they’d have something set up so you could get a hold of them when something like this happens, because I know I’m not the only one out there.”

Velasquez says, ”When you are using these free platforms and services, we want better customer service, but the reality is we are not their customers. We are their product. Their customers are the advertisers.”

“We have encouraged these platforms to please provide additional resources. Please beef up their customer service and their fraud staff so that individuals can please get these issues resolved, but that has yet to happen.”

It’s critical to lock down your social media security settings to protect yourself from hackers looking to lock you out.

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