How to Spot (and Deal With) Facebook Copyright Infringement Scams
These days, almost everybody has a Facebook account. For some of us, it’s a huge part of where we spend our time online and an essential tool for keeping in contact with friends and family. But a Facebook copyright infringement scam has been targeting users, and now it’s happening more frequently. This scam can see people losing money, important memories, and even their entire Facebook accounts.
Here’s what you need to know about this scam: How it works, how to spot it, steps to protect yourself, and what to do if you got caught in it.
How the Facebook Copyright Infringement Scam Works
This Facebook copyright infringement scam starts with a phishing message. It could come through text message, email, or a message on Facebook Messenger. The sender claims to be an official part of Facebook or its parent organization Meta. And the message claims that you’ve broken their terms of service or gone against their community standards by infringing on someone’s copyright. If you don’t fill out an appeal form within 24 hours, they claim, your account will be terminated.
The message includes a link that you’re supposed to click to fill out the appeal. It sounds like a terrible problem with an easy solution – you’ve been accused of breaking the law, and all you have to do is click a link and fill out a form to make the problem go away. If you click on the link, it will go to a site that looks like Facebook, but really is fake. When you enter your Facebook login information, it gets sent straight to the scammers.
Why Scammers Want Your Facebook Login Information
Scammers wouldn’t do Facebook copyright infringement scams if they didn’t get something out of it. There’s a long list of things they can do once they can access your Facebook account:
- Access the personal information from your account to steal your identity, sell it to other criminals, or target you with more personalized scams.
- Send spam to your friends, hoping a message from “you” will look trustworthy enough that they can steal your friends’ money or information.
- Use your saved payment information to send themselves money or to make purchases.
- Post spam, scams, or dangerous or illegal content.
- Buy ads to target other people with different scams.
- Use “credential stuffing” on other websites – if you use your Facebook password on other sites, they will be able to get into those accounts, as well.
And that’s not counting the damage they’re not intending to do. A scammer’s malicious posts could make your friends upset, offended, or angry. And if a scammer takes over your Facebook account with a copyright infringement scam, you could lose access to all the posts, messages, and photos you had on that account. If you don’t have them stored anywhere else, you may not be able to get them back.
Take Proactive Steps to Protect Yourself
The best way to deal with the damage of a Facebook copyright infringement scam – or any type of scam, for that matter – is to be proactive. Take steps to reduce the damages before you find yourself at risk. A great first step is awareness. Just being aware that the scam is out there will make you more likely to spot it when it targets you. Reading this article is a great start!
To protect yourself even further, keep your financial information off of Facebook. If you need to use it to make a purchase or send money, go to the Facebook Accounts Center (accountscenter.facebook.com), find the Payments section, and remove it when you’re done. That way if a scammer gets access to your account, they still won’t be able to get at your money.
Anything with emotional or sentimental value should be backed up somewhere besides Facebook. That includes photos, posts, messages, or anything else you want to save. You can save them to your device or an external hard drive, but we recommend cloud-based file storage or a backup service. With everything backed up, you won’t lose your important memories to a scammer.
Make sure your Facebook password is one that you don’t use on any other accounts. That will protect your other accounts in case a scammer gets your Facebook password.
We also recommend having a trusted friend who you can call before you click. Run anything that makes you feel scared, pressured, or rushed past this friend before you click, reply, or enter any information. Someone outside the situation can sometimes spot a scam more easily.
How to Spot a Facebook Copyright Infringement Scam
The final thing you can do to protect yourself from this Facebook copyright infringement scam is to know what to watch out for. If you can spot it, you can avoid it. Here are some things to watch for – both for scams in general and this scam in particular.
Urgency and Threats
Urgency and threats are both major signs of a scam. Anything that wants you to act immediately or threatens dire consequences should be suspicious. This scam tells you that you only have a short amount of time to file an appeal, and if you don’t your Facebook account will be disabled or they will take legal action against you. Be wary of anything that makes you feel like you have to react right away or makes you feel scared of the consequences.
The messages in the Facebook copyright infringement scam often look and sound official. They use a lot of big words and legal language, and may even cite real laws, like the DMCA. But they don’t tell you anything specific. The message may refer to “posts and images” that you shared, or “this copyrighted content,” but it won’t ever tell you which post is the problem, or even how many posts.
Errors in the Text
Errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization are common signs of a scam. If you get a message claiming to be an official notice from Facebook that is riddled with mistakes, that’s a scam.
This is not the only sign of a scam, however. The rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT means that scammers can create fake messages that look legit and are error-free. A bunch of errors means the message is probably fake. But having no errors doesn’t mean it’s real.
Fake Senders and Fake Links
The message sender may claim to be from a department or team that doesn’t exist, like the fictional Facebook Copyright Infringement Department. The email sender might have a legitimate-looking name, but if you look at the email address it’s definitely not from a facebook.com email. And if you look at the link, either by hovering your cursor over it on a computer or by pressing and holding on a phone, it starts with something that isn’t facebook.com or https://facebook.com/. If the message has any of those fake elements, it’s a Facebook copyright infringement scam.
If you get the same message multiple times, it’s likely a fake. Scammers often send out their messages in bulk, not paying attention to who’s on the list. If you got the same email or the same text twice, it’s most likely being sent by a scammer.
No Notification on Facebook
If Facebook sends you a genuine email, text message, or Messenger message, they will also send you a notification on your Facebook account. If you’re not sure a message is real, you can use this fact to double-check. Don’t click on any links in the message. Instead, go directly to facebook.com or open the Facebook app. Then check your notifications. If you don’t have a Facebook notification about copyright infringement, the message is a scam.
What to Do If You Get Caught in a Facebook Copyright Infringement Scam
Even intelligent, educated, aware people can get caught in scams. If you’ve fallen for a Facebook copyright infringement scam, don’t be ashamed. It’s time to take action to mitigate the damage as much as you can.
Start by reporting the initial message. Report it to Facebook, and provide as much information as possible. Also report it to the FBI through IC3.gov. Block the sender, but don’t delete any messages – they may be needed in a future investigation. And if your Facebook account is locked or disabled, you can appeal it to Facebook.
Check your device for malware in case the fraudulent link did more than steal your login information. If you used your Facebook password or a similar password on any other accounts, change those immediately. And monitor your other accounts and your credit report for anything suspicious that might indicate someone got access or stole your identity.
If You Still Have Access to Your Account
If you still have access to your Facebook account, there are additional steps you can take to secure it. First, reset your password to one that’s long, random, and that you haven’t used anywhere else. Turn on two-factor authentication. Then go into the Accounts Center, find the Activity Log, and log out every other device that’s logged in.
Next, review your posts, messages, payments, and other activity for unauthorized changes. Delete any scam or offensive posts. Warn your friends that your account was compromised and they should be suspicious of any posts or messages from you. And monitor your account activity in the next few weeks. Report any suspicious new posts, messages, friends, or friend requests to Facebook.
Stay Safe from Facebook Copyright Infringement Scams
We’ve seen a rise in Facebook copyright infringement scams recently, which means they must be working for scammers. If you haven’t yet received one of these messages, it’s important to be aware and be suspicious. Examine any message you get claiming to be from Facebook and check if it’s a scam using the warning signs in this article before you click on any links. You can also take steps to reduce the possible damage if you do fall for it in the future.
If you have gotten caught in this scam, don’t be ashamed. As we’ve said many times, even the smartest, most educated, most aware of us can still get caught. Take steps to report it, secure your account if you still have access, and take measures to limit the damage the scammer can do even beyond Facebook.
- Easy Prey Podcast
- General Topics
- Home Computing
- IP Addresses
- Networking Basics: Learn How Networks Work
- Online Privacy
- Online Safety
Scams and cyber crime are constantly increasing. New advances in technology enable criminals to attack faster, smarter,…[Read More]
IP networking is at the center of how today’s smart devices communicate with each other over networks,…[Read More]