Ever get a friend request on Facebook from someone with whom you are already friends, or see a Twitter account that looks real, but it’s not being run by the person it’s pretending to be? This is known as spoofing. This is not a hack, which is when someone gets into your account by obtaining your password, rather, this is someone creating a new account, stealing your profile picture and cover image, and then sending friend requests or following the friends in your list.
Social Media Spoofing: Take Immediate Action
These spoofed accounts are against Facebook’s and Twitter’s terms of service and should be reported immediately. Facebook’s reporting tool makes it easy. Twitter also makes it very simple to report a phony account. Let your friends or followers know about the fake account, as they could be targeted by it for scams.
If you’ve already been scammed, contact an attorney to find out any legal options available to you. The more information you have, the easier it will be to build a case. An attorney will be able to subpoena the IP addresses from Facebook and Twitter to help determine the source of the account.
Social Media Phishing Schemes: Don’t Be a Target
Another way cybercriminals can impersonate you is by taking control of your actual social media account via a phishing scheme. Phishing is defined as: “the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.” Never click on one of these links and enter your login information, even if it has the official social media platform logo on it. These emails are designed to fool you, and they can be quite convincing. Look for misspellings, links hidden behind text, and blurry logos. When someone says their account has been hacked, this is how that could happen.
If you do fall victim to this scheme it could spell disaster for you, especially if you are using that account to manage brand pages. If this happens to you, report this to Facebook immediately using their tool here.
It’s always a good idea to periodically search your name in Google, Yahoo and Bing to see if anything malicious comes up. Setting up a Google Alert or using a service like Talk Walker free alerts to notify you of any mentions of your name across the internet is a good way to automate the process. Also, set up two-factor authentication on your social media accounts so that you have to verify access from an unrecognized device or location.
An impersonator can destroy your business and personal reputation in a matter of minutes. The more proactive you are, the better protected you’ll be.