Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano

Imagine you’re a small business or an individual and someone creates a Facebook , Twitter or any other social media profile and uses your name, picture or logo. Next they start to post blogs and send out links as you. They may be contacting your clients to get them to join in social media or they simply show up in search. Either way their intention is fraudulent. Having a presence online of someone else allows a scammer unlimited possibilities to do wrong and they may never get caught.

Also, traditional phishing where scammers would send a fake email purportedly coming from a trusted entity aren’t as successful as they used to be. Identity thieves are taking advantage of free use of social media and building a home base on legitimate sites. Once established, they look as legitimate as any other fan page or Twitter account. There are few, if any checks and balances preventing this.

There are so many reasons why this kind of social media identity theft occurs.

  1. They may be seeking steal your clients or potential clients away by posing as you, but gradually revealing themselves and do a quick switcheroo hoping to not get discovered.
  2. They could be squatting on your name or brand hoping to profit off of it by selling it back to you or preventing you from using it.
  3. They could be criminal hackers posting infected links with the intention anyone click on them and download a virus that infects your PC or network giving them back door access.
  4. They may be intentionally posing as you, even blogging as you for the purposes of damaging your name or brand. Anything they say to the world that is libelous, defamatory or just plain wrong makes you look bad or can get you sued and you have to prove otherwise.
  5. They may be posing as you to harass someone you know or your clients to further damage you.
  6. They could be doing it simply to harass you to get back at you, seeking revenge because you slighted them or sold them a defective product or service.
  7. They may pose as a name or brand that has leverage like a celebrity or Fortune 500 that can open doors for them. Get them places where they couldn’t get on their own, a form of social engineering.
  8. Your brand may sell products or services and the identity thieves pose as you and offer deals with links to spoofed websites hoping to extract credit cards numbers.
  9. They may pose as any government entity such as the IRS, Social Security Administration, Medicare or any other agency for the sole purpose of extracting data and committing new account fraud
  10. They may be obsessed or desire you or your brand and simply want to have a piece of you or be recognized as you. They can actually be or act as you when they are responding to messages and queries from those who think the scammer is you. Just like a stalker who hunts down their prey, they can’t get enough of you and by posing as you it gives them a little satisfaction and the attention they crave.
  11. They could be spoofing you, as in a parody of you or your brand. They may have created a “tongue and cheek” site that may be obvious, it might be funny, but more than likely it’s not funny to you.
  12. They could be posing as you to elicit contact from others for the purposes of a relationship, sexual or otherwise either in person or virtually. A young man was recently caught posing as an attractive girl in his school on Facebook. He contacted guys in his class posing as her and requested naked photos of them. When he revealed who he was and what he would do with the photos-or else- he began to extort sex from them.

Social media is just a baby. All of the above stems from real world examples from research over the past few years. Unfortunately this list is going to keep growing. Varieties of fraud that can occur via social media is only up to the imagination of the thief. Submit your own findings. Lets hear what other whacked out other social media identity thieves are doing.

Prevent social media identity theft: Register all your officers, company names and branded products on every social media site you can find to prevent twittersquatting and cybersquatting. You can do this manually or by using a very cost effective service called Knowem.com.

Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker with ID Analytics discussing Social Media Identity Theft on Fox Boston

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