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Is that Facebook friend request legit? Here’s how to find out

If you’ve been using Facebook for some time now, you’re probably familiar with the massive amount of notifications that pop up. You’ll see things like upcoming birthdays, events your friends are going to and a plethora of other random activities from everyone you know.

There’s also notifications for friend requests from people you may not even remember.

The reason your brain can’t remember some of these individuals on your friends’ request page is probably because you really don’t know them at all.

Be suspicious about these players, as they may want more than to just be friends with you.

It makes you wonder if they’re after information you don’t want to share with complete strangers. In this guide, we’ll breakdown when a friend request could be fake and how to spot it.

Fake Facebook friend requests and why they’re sent

Fake Facebook friend requests can be received for any number of reasons, from harmless to malicious. The types of bad actors to look out for you’ll find listed below.

  • Scammers
    • Scammers create fake Facebook profiles and request to be your friend solely to gain access to your personal data such as contact details, or other personally identifiable information that’s restricted to “friends only”
    • This information would be useful in setting you up for a phishing attack
  • Malicious link posters
    • You may also receive friend requests from attackers who are looking to post malicious links that lead to malware, or phishing sites which can end up in your Facebook news feed after you accept their friend request
  • Catfishing
    • Always question those people behind that attractive profile picture that you don’t recognize, as they may not be exactly who they claim to be behind the scenes
    • Catfishers like to create extensive online profiles, using photos of beautiful models in an attempt to hook victims looking for love online
    • They may also send out random friend requests to huge numbers of people before finding a willing victim
  • Ex-relationships
    • If you unfriend someone who you’d like out of your digital circle of friends, your ex can still find a way back to your Facebook account
    • They do this by creating a fake profile and befriending you using an alias, which allows them to know what you’re up to without you knowing they are on the other side keeping tabs
  • Current relationships
    • Your current significant other could be questioning your devotion in an unethical fashion. They could resort to creating a false profile with an engaging profile picture to test your response to suggestive posts or chats
    • This information could be recorded with the intent of using it against you later
  • Private investigators
    • They use fake friend requests to learn more about you and see information that you normally restrict from public view, which is reserved for friends

How do you spot a fake friend request?

This is where you need to be diligent while on the lookout for clues that a friend request might be bogus. Asking yourself the following questions will help you to determine if that friend request might be from a disingenuous profile.

  • Is the request someone familiar, or are they friends of friends?
    • If you don’t recognize them, or if you don’t recall ever meeting them digitally, in real life, or through mutual friends, the request may be a fake
    • Check the requester’s friends list to see if there are mutual friends or anyone you may know
  • Is the request from an attractive person?
    • If you’re receiving a sudden and random friend request from an attractive person of the opposite gender, you should suspect it’s a trick
    • Friend requests with a photo of an attractive person posturing provocatively are often bait used for fake friend requests
  • Is their Facebook history limited?
    • When checking their Facebook timeline, it could be bogus if the person just joined the site a short time ago
    • Legitimate Facebook users generally have a long history with their timeline dating back several years. Of course, some people are late to the game and may just be getting started with Facebook but it’s better to be safe than sorry
  • Fake profiles are often created hastily
    • Most fake profiles will indicate when the person joined and if the sender’s account timeline was created within a few weeks. If so, proceed with caution, it could be a scam.
  • Do they have limited friends or are they all the same gender? 
    • Fictitious profiles can have a notably small number of friends, which tells you they probably spent very little effort setting up their fake profile
    • Another clue being the gender of those on their friend’s list could be entirely one-sided, instead of a mix of men and women like a real person would have
  • Is there limited personal content on their timeline?
    • There may be little to no day-to-day activity due to the effort it requires to create “real” content
    • There might be some pictures or links, but there probably won’t be many status updates
    • This could be the opposite for scammers who catfish, as they may take more effort in making their online persona seem very real

If you’ve received a random friend request from someone you don’t remember, you should ask yourself the questions above. The answers you discover will help you in determining whether you’ve found a fake friend request.

Anyone with a social media presence should be able to be found via Google or other search methods. Either way, when you’re in doubt the best action is not to accept the request.

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