Is Someone Trying to Hack My Facebook Account?

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I received this message: “We received a request to reset your Facebook password.” (to two different e-dresses) at 2:30 something am. I was not up at that hour. The links in the email, I believe, lead to an actual FB page to reset my password. Does this mean that someone was trying to hack me?

All I can really say is maybe.

I might even go so far as to say probably, but I can’t say yes, since there are other possible explanations.

Let’s review what’s going on.

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Facebook password recovery

If you forget your Facebook password, the first step is to click the “Forgot account?” link on the Facebook log-in screen.

Forgot account?

That walks you through the process of account recovery, taking whatever information you know about the account to prove that you are the rightful owner.

One of those pieces of information is your email address, and in the most common case of a lost password, you’ll enter the email address of your account and Facebook will send an email to that email address.

Facebook password reset

Since you don’t know your password, and a secure system won’t tell it to you, the option is simply to set a new password. You prove that you are the rightful owner of the Facebook account by proving your access to the account email address. You do that by clicking on a link in that email or typing in the one-time password reset code provided in that email.

Two emails?

That you got two notifications sent to two different accounts is a good thing. It means you have an alternate or additional email address associated with your account. When a password reset notification is sent, it’s sent to all the email addresses associated with your account.

Three email addresses

That way, if one of those email accounts gets hacked, you’ll still get notification on the others that something nefarious is going on.

I strongly recommend everyone have at least one alternate email address associated with their Facebook account. As you can see above, I have three.

Scenario #1: the intentional hack attempt

Say someone knows your email address and they want to hack into your Facebook account. One approach — at least to start — is to enter your email address into the account recovery process and see if Facebook will let them set a new password.

Naturally, Facebook sends an email to all the email addresses on your account, so you know what’s going on. As long as that hacker-wannabe doesn’t have access to one of your email accounts, they can’t get in. They won’t be able to receive the email message. They won’t be able to fool Facebook that they’re you.

Scenario #2: the accidental “hack” attempt

This one isn’t really a hack, since the person doing it isn’t trying to get into your account. They probably have no idea what they’re doing.

They’re trying to log in and getting their password wrong. Facebook isn’t letting them in. As a result, they try the account recovery path. They enter in their email address, and once again the account-recovery email is sent to all email addresses associated with the account.

The problem? They typed their email address in wrong. What they typed was your email address, not their own. That’s probably why they couldn’t log in in the first place.

It sounds far-fetched, but it’s amazing how often people get their own email address wrong. Repeatedly. Or they just don’t use it often enough to remember exactly what it is — and exactness counts.

They may try several times before giving up or realizing their mistake.

This happens to me often

Don’t let this scare you too much. As you can see, Facebook has a security system in place. As long as your email accounts are secure, your Facebook account is likely to be secure.

This happens to me all the time. Screenshots for this article were just a matter of me looking in my archived email. The image of the notification email is from last week. When it happens, I do click the “let us know” link to let Facebook know that, no, this was not me trying to change my password. My assumption is they use this method to identify repeat offenders.

I’ll admit, it’s all a little unnerving, but I try not to sweat it. Mostly because I have a not-so-secret weapon.

Two-factor authentication

Facebook supports two-factor authentication, and I have it turned on.

Facebook two-factor

Facebook Code GeneratorFacebook supports several different forms of two-factor. In my case, even if someone gets my password, they’d have to also enter a code that’s displayed only by the Facebook app on my mobile phone.

Without that second factor, they can’t log in.

As you might imagine, enabling some form of two-factor authentication is something I recommend for all your important accounts that support it. Facebook most certainly qualifies for most people.

Hacking attempt or not?

Ultimately, there’s no way to know whether the attempt to reset your account password was deliberate or accidental. Perhaps you’re a target, or perhaps your email address is similar to that of others. We’ll never really know.

But by maintaining the security of your email accounts, and possibly adding two-factor authentication, you can generally rest easy — even when you get these unexpected notifications.

28 comments on “Is Someone Trying to Hack My Facebook Account?”

  1. I have also noticed a third scenario – the email could be a phishing email and it’s not from Facebook at all. The links in the email all point to a fake Facebook web site where they hope you enter your user name and password for them. As Leo mentions above, two factor authentication would keep you safer in this scenario as well. I’ve seen these types of phishing emails where they looked like they were from Ebay, Yahoo, and most recently Microsoft.

    • Good to point it out because the article don’t mention it and is something that is happening a lot. Is important that people do not click in a hurry if they see something strange or have not request a password change.

    • I can cite a fourth scenario: You access Facebook while your computer or mobile device is using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Facebook’s security system flags your log-in as potentially fraudulent or a hack attempt and forcing me to change my password.

      That happened to me quite often after I subscribed to a VPN. After the seventh time, I had had enough and filed a formal complaint with Facebook, demanding that the social network stop flagging my log-ins. In my complaint, I pointed out that millions of Facebook users employ VPNs for added online security above and beyond their device’s security software. — and the use of VPNs have become de rigeur on mobile devices.

      Since I filed my complaint, I’ve had no further problems with my Facebook logins.

  2. i have only a landline. nothing mobile. FB`s two factor auth won`t let me use a landline. it has to be mobile or nothing.
    i`ve written FB more than a few times because they keep asking me to enable it.
    nothing ever changes.

  3. My rule of thumb is common sense. If you didn’t ask for it, it wasn’t real. Even if you did it by mistake, ALWAYS go directly to the site, don’t use email links. Find out there, acknowledge it was/wasn’t you, or it was a mistake and make sure they know.

    Another thing, one that is kind of annoying sometimes, especially if you got a new computer running or installed a new browser, is that some sites will email you and ask if it was you (Google is a prime example). I have more than two machines and having to prove I’m me at least once a month because of that always seems silly. Oh well, at least you know they are made aware that you are not John Hacker.

  4. for some time ive told ssus, google help my 1st key on lphebet didn’t respond when sign in p/wd I seen on smart tv how to but I hd to give p/wd with out success found out with settings go to on screen lphebet found success full. why they cnt inform me of slusion. without the 1st vowel it’s impossible on keybord for signing & emils. I know this is not english hope one makes sense of this comment.

  5. I don’t have any of the problems above but I do have a very strange problem with Face book. They keep sending me emails telling me that I have a friend request for “my facebook page.” I do not have a Facebook account and never have. I’ve had my wife check for me and she can not find the email page in question. however I get an average of 3 invites a quarter. A lot of them state I saw your profile “on Facebook.” how do I handle this problem? I have tried to contact Facebook aboutthis problem but never receive an answer.

  6. If you use stupid sites like Facebook, you deserve everything which happens to you. I wouldn’t touch most public domain sites with a forty foot pole….Too great a security risk.

    Grrrooowwwlll….Marum. (Die Schachspielenkatze)

  7. I recently lost my phone but i did a sim swap in order to keep my old number. Now I keep getting facebook verification messages to my sms inbox. How do i stop someone from getting access to my facebook account?

  8. Im having a problem : someone hacked into my Facebook account I believe they changed my phone number and turned on the two factor authentication I can’t get into my Facebook account because it’s asking for these codes … I’m able to still receive emails and was able to change password but can’t get in. Do you have any advice?

    • Honestly, if you are not just making all that up and just never set your 2-factor or any authentication settings up and somebody did manage to get in and did that? Well, Facebook very easily has another Authentication function that is exactly meant for such reasons, at least, I know this because it happened to me but it was my own fault. They asked me and offered a chance for me to snap a digital photo of my license and just blacking out all the personal information. They use that solely to identify your “face” because well, it’s “Face”book. But, many people don’t have photos of their-selves. They also use it to identify then, aside from the photo, your “name” “birthdate” and overall, if it’s a real license OR State I.D. It doesn’t have to be a license. So, in the end, even if you come to a situation like you’re in, all you have to do is Google Facebook’s Security Tech Support or w/e, and follow the steps to email them your drivers’ license and stuff. You’ll be fine. I forgot how long it took but it was fairly quick. Hope that helps!

      • I don’t think it’s the face they compare, as long as it’s a valid ID, they just verify that it’s your name. Could be a problem if you use an alias.

  9. That’s right, bro! 2-Factor! Word up. I love it. It’s pointless, you ain’t gettin’ it, bro! Try another Facebook lol. I love those fake profile friend requests, too. It’s just like back on AOL, they did the same thing. And it still occurs in e-mail, different scams but they all resemble one another and are easy to spot. I love this article. I appreciate your knowledge and personality in computer/internet and mostly security-based situations. Thank you for the experience, the knowledge, the help, and also the entertainment.

    • If it says your password has been reset, then your account may just have been hacked. If it’s saying that an attempt failed (which I suspect is the case), then someone’s trying to change the password — either maliciously, or by mistake. Make sure your account is properly secured!

  10. * Have changed my e-mail address to something you definitly won’t type in by mistake.
    * Have removed the old e-mail address.
    * Have enabled two-factor authentication

    Bur still get these messages (not e-mails) on facebook, from facebook that someone is trying to login and I must change password.
    Happens very, very often, and is driving me crazy.

    • Do you use a VPN? That can cause that message sometimes as it looks like logins are being attempted from different countries or regions. Logging in from different computers and sometimes from different computers can also trigger that warning.

  11. what if i can’t find my code generator? i go through all the steps and it asks for a code. once or twice i was able to enter a code. Now it does not show onscreen.

  12. Hello sir, just wanted to ask about a serious problem i’m having with my mothers facebook account. So my mother has passed away due to a terminal illness and she wanted me to take over her facebook account. So a couple days ago, i signed into the account and I was just going through my mothers posts etc, so the next day, i log into the account and suddenly it says “Someone may have logged into your account – In order to keep your information secure, we’ve locked your account. Before we can unlock it, please verify your identity and change your password.
    Your account will remain hidden until you complete this process.” So i clicked continue and it brings me to two verification options. “1. Text a security code to your phone
    2. Confirm your identity on another phone or computer” so i chose the first option because i have my mothers sim card with the same number the verification code was allocated to. I can clearly see its the exact same number where its supposed to send me a 6 digit code to verify that the account is “mine”. No matter how many times i’ve tried, it just isn’t working. Please help me with this problem as the account has been secured from public view, i was supposed to download pictures from what my mom has uploaded here for her memorial that is coming soon. Please help me.

    • I have tried the 2nd verification option it gave me, but instructions were vague and it said “Login was not approved” but after failing both options, the 3rd option pops up which is “Upload a photo ID”. Very strange request but I can’t really do this option.

      • Cannot receive verification code on my mobile number is there something I need to set up in order to receive this code?

        • You shouldn’t need to, generally. Depends on the kinds of verification, but generally if you can receive text messages you should be able to get the codes. Make sure that the phone number is configured correctly.

  13. Google recently notified me that my someone who “knew my password” tried to hack my gmail account. Within a week, facebook contacted me telling that someone other than me logged into my account. BOTH instances were traced to Charlotte, NC, but I have DIFFERENT email addresses associated with my Gmail and FB accounts. Was this likely someone who knew me (my old login information saved on their computer)?

    Thank you so much for the insight.

    • Two logins from the same place to two different accounts of yours certainly sounds like someone who knows you or has had access to your computer. Did you sell or give your computer away, or did you use someone else’s computer to log into those accounts?

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