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'Malicious tagging': A growing scam on Facebook

Experts say it can take down your Facebook account
"Malicious tagging” is a growing Facebook scam in which scammers hack into your friend’s Facebook page and tag you.
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jul 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-21 19:21:36-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Jodi Courtney of Brownsburg looks at Facebook a few times a day.

"I'll get on and check to see what's going on with the world and my friends,” said Courtney.

This week, Courtney’s friend tagged her in a video post with the wording, “Just died in an accident.”

"I think your initial thought is oh my gosh what happened” said Courtney. “I scrolled past it because it was a really weird post. It was really strange to see.”

Courtney is a victim of “malicious tagging,” a growing Facebook scam in which scammers hack into your friend’s Facebook page and tag you.

The links often say sensational things like “look who died in an accident… I think you know him” or “observe how they are around another spouse.”

They appear to be legitimate news reports, but they’re not.

When you click the link, it takes you to a fake Facebook login page.

"It's a way to get your log in information, hack it and perpetuate the scam further or get your personal information loaded with your profile,” said Jennifer Adamany, Communication Director at the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana.

The Better Business Bureau and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office both say malicious tagging is a growing scam on social media, especially Facebook.

“Facebook will allow you to log into other platforms through your account so it’s a uniform email password to log in,” said Adamany. “Scammers know that. So by getting into your Facebook, they can have better access to all these other accounts where you have personal information lying around that they can get to steal your identity, get access to your bank accounts.”

Douglas Swetnam, Section Chief for Data Privacy and Identity Theft at the Office of Attorney General, said the problem is on the rise because scammers can make more money than ever.

“The value of the Facebook accounts continues to be a hot commodity on the dark web market,” said Swetnam. "They're always trying to find new ways to trick people into providing their account information. People buy and trade Facebook accounts because it’s a great place to prey upon victims of other scams.”

Jodi Courtney removed the tag and the post from her profile and plans to talk to her children about the dangers of malicious tagging.

“They’re certainly active on social media space, so making sure they understand the impact,” said Courtney.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Beware of suspicious links
  • Check the URL on the link
  • Use multifactor authentication
  • If you did click on something, quickly change your password
  • If you’re tagged, remove the tag, report it to Facebook and delete it from your profile
  • If your friend is hacked, don’t message them via Facebook. Call or text them.