OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) — Finding customers online – it’s the way many small businesses have survived during the coronavirus pandemic.
But as CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra reported Wednesday night, an Oak Lawn woman said she was shut out of her company’s Facebook page – and even Facebook itself isn’t sure whether it’s a scam or not.
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“So my clients are all over,” said JoAnn Fakhouri.
Fakhouri is a multi-hyphenate when it comes to her profession. She is in public relations and TV production, and she also even runs a bakery – and she finds a lot of opportunities through connecting online.
“A huge part of it,” she said. “I mean, the amount of people I’m able to reach through social media supersedes any of the other outlets I’ve used in the past.”
We might have shown Fakhouri’s Facebook pages for her small businesses on television for Saavedra’s story. But we couldn’t – and here was why.
“I received an email about a week ago, and it said, ‘Your new password request has been sent,’” Fakhouri said. “Of course, I opened my email and looked at that – and my heart just dropped.”
What followed was two hours of emails resetting password sand trying to get back into her account.
She said the account “was locked, and blocked – and that’s where the nightmare started.”
It has been now been seven days without access to her best business resource, and Fakhouri said she has been unable to find a way to talk to Facebook directly for help.
“Sheesh, I mean, you were doing all the right stuff, you know?” said William Kresse, also known as Professor Fraud.
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We called in Kresse, a scam expert and professor at Governors State University for his two cents. He felt skeptical about that first email Fakhouri received.
“Watch out for those phishing emails that look legitimate,” Kresse said. “The bad guys are getting really good at making those things look legitimate.”
We reached out to Facebook to get our own answers. They explained why Fakhouri’s account was locked:
“Our system automatically locked this account after detecting suspicious activity, and now we’re providing support so the account owner can regain access. We encourage everyone to keep their account secure with two-factor authentication and doing a free security checkup at facebook.com/safety.”
They also told us scammers are so good, they can make emails look like they’re coming from a legitimate address when they’re not – so it’s even hard for Facebook to verify the email Fakhouri got.
So what can you do? Triple check that every page for your business has that two-factor authentication turned on, which will reach you two different ways to alert you about changes in your account.
If you’re locked out, you also can still access facebook.com/hacked to report it.
“Sure, you have a website, but you need social media to draw people to your site, you know?” Fakhouri said. “Yeah, it’s very critical.”
After our call to Facebook, Fakhouri was able to get into her account Wednesday night. But they did ask her to send a picture of an ID to make sure it was really she.
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That request might sound questionable, but it is actually the policy. We confirmed on Facebook’s website that the company does ask for identification when trying to verify accounts.