Social Media Identity Theft

Did you find a fake profile using your photos and information? Find out what to do if someone is impersonating you on social media.

Step 1:Recognize

How to Spot Social Media Identity Theft

Social media impersonation can be hard to spot. Oftentimes, you will find out you are being impersonated on social media only when someone notifies you. We have to work together as an online community to help stop these scammers. If you notice or find out someone is being impersonated on social media, let them know immediately. Then report the account to the appropriate platform.

Step 2:Immediate Actions

If you think you are the victim of social media identity theft, it is important to take action right away. Here are some steps to take:

  • Contact the relevant social media platform (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), report the impostor account and request that the account be removed.
  • Encourage your friends and followers to report the fake account.
  • Seek legal advice if you think that your rights have been infringed or if you have been defamed.
  • Update your privacy settings to limit who can see your posts, photos and personal information.
  • Speak to an Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) expert advisor toll-free by phone (888.400.5530) during their normal business hours (6 a.m.-5 p.m. PST) for one-on-one assistance.

Step 3:Report

Reporting any type of cybercrime, including social media identity theft, is imperative to help others avoid being scammed. As a society, the more people that report online scams and fraud, the more national reporting data that is collected, and the better chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals and decrease cybercrime.

Step 4:Recover

Protect Yourself for the Future

Once you have notified the appropriate organizations, it is time to recover and reinforce your cybersecurity by implementing preventative measures.

  1. Be careful about the information you share on social media. Do not post any information that could be used to identify you, such as your full name, address or date of birth.
  2. Be cautious about friend requests from people you do not know. If you receive a friend request from someone you do not know, do not accept it.
  3. Do not click on links from people you do not know. If you receive a message from someone you do not know that contains a link, do not click on it.
  4. Be aware of what information is visible to the public on your social media accounts. Check your privacy settings to make sure that only people you know and trust can see your information.
  5. Do not respond to messages or requests for personal information from people you do not know. If you receive a message or request for personal information from someone you do not know, do not respond.
  6. Report any suspicious activity to the social media platform and/or the authorities.

Take 5 Steps for Better Online Security

In addition, it’s important to strengthen your online security to help avoid all types of online scams. Take action to improve your digital posture by following these steps:

  1. Implement Multi Factor Authentication (MFA): Passwords are generally easy for scammers to crack, and even if you use strong passphrases, there’s still the possibility that a cybercriminal can obtain your passphrase in a data breach. Implementing MFA is a great way to maximize your security and ensure that you are the only one who can gain access to your accounts. MFA should be implemented on all accounts where it is available. Check your account’s security settings to see if it is something you can set up.
  2. Update Your Privacy Settings: Privacy settings allow you to control your personal information (name, address, phone number, date of birth, financial details, photos or videos, etc) and how that information is used. Review your privacy settings on all of your accounts including your social media accounts. Consider restricting who can see your friends list, contacts, photos and posts.
  3. Activate Automatic Updates: Automatic updates are a set of changes to an app, software or operating system that are automatically pushed by the developer to fix or improve it. Oftentimes, cybercriminals take advantage of security flaws to plant malicious software on your devices. By activating automatic updates, you will automatically patch security vulnerabilities to protect your data.
  4. Use a Password Manager or Create Strong Passphrases: A password manager is a software tool that securely stores all of your login credentials in one place, allowing you to create and manage strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. If you are unable to afford a password manager, use strong passphrases. A passphrase is a combination of random words or a sentence that is much longer and more complex than a typical password. Using a passphrase instead of a password makes it much harder for hackers to guess or brute-force their way into your accounts.
  5. Learn the Elements of a Phishing Attempt: Familiarize yourself with the elements of a phishing email. Phishing emails tend to include a sense of urgency and multiple grammar and spelling errors. If they are asking you to reveal personal information, be suspicious. If you get a strange email, try contacting the company another way to confirm they sent that email. If the email is suspicious, mark it as spam.

TestimonialHear from Other Victims

Without, I don't know if I would have been able to react as quickly to protect my personal information.
Mary - Indianapolis, IN