“Someone Impersonating Me On Instagram”.
By now, most of us are aware that sharing too much information online puts your life at risk. The details that you reveal can be used against you, specifically against your privacy for fraudulent activities.
But wait, this gets worse. Scammers have upped their game now to use your personal information, including your photos, to create fake social media accounts in your name. You may not know it, but there’s already a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account with your name and pictures on them.
These fake profiles can be used to ruin your reputation or scam other people. The biggest risk here is obvious, your friends, family, and coworkers may think that you are really the one collecting money for some fake charity or spreading hateful messages online.
Fortunately, this can be prevented and there are things you can do to protect yourself against people who want to use your personal information for malicious means.
It’s understandable that you can’t just abandon your social media accounts because they do have their practical uses. It’s just a matter of being careful what you put out online so that scammers wouldn’t find anything substantial that they can use for their purposes.
How Social Media Identity Theft Works
The basic way they do identity theft is by stealing your photos from the internet and searching for other personal information they can find online.
They will put these together to create a fake profile that looks legitimate enough to convince even your family and friends. So the more personal information you have online, the better the chances of them creating a convincing fake profile.
Common information includes your school, the name of your spouse, and the identities of your family members.
A more advanced way is to send you an email claiming to be from your bank or claiming to be someone you know. These emails will try to extract information from you, which they will use to create a legitimate-looking profile under your name.
Your GPS can also be used against you, as this feature can reveal sensitive information whenever you share your location. They can acquire your home and work address, as well as the places that you’ve been to.
This information can be used for purposes other than soliciting funds or making hateful content under your name. These scammers can gain access to your bank account and drain your funds just by using your name, email address, and Facebook profile.
Ways to Prevent the Theft of Your Social Media Identity
1. Limit the Viewers of Your Posts and Photos on Facebook
Perhaps you don’t know how much information one can get just by looking at the public posts you’ve made on Facebook. You may not realize it, but they can find out your birth date, employer, school, hometown, and your maiden name.
This is why it’s a cardinal rule to always limit your posts to friends and family members only. This applies to your Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and other social media accounts.
As suggested by the World Protection Group, you can protect yourself by going to the Settings of your Facebook account and tinker on its privacy options. Set your posts to “Friends” or exclude specific people that you don’t want to share certain posts.
You should also do the same for your past and future posts as well. You don’t want your posts from several years ago exposed to everyone.
2. Keep Your Photos Private on Instagram
Unless you’re a public figure who maintains a fan base on Instagram, it’s best to keep your photos private. It’s easy to turn your account into private mode. When you do this, only your existing followers will be able to see anything you post.
People who want to see your photos will have to send a follow request, which gives you control of your audience.
Now if you must make your account public, just be careful of the photos that you put up—make sure that it doesn’t contain information that can be used against you or the photos themselves cannot be used for malicious purposes.
Also, seriously consider not posting each and everything you do online. It may feel good to show people how much fun you’re having while on vacation at some breathtaking resort in an exotic country, but letting the public know where you are can become a security risk.
If you need additional security while you’re out and about, you may want to sign up for executive protection services and have agents secure you and your family.
3. Make Your Twitter Posts Private
You can modify the settings of each Twitter post to private so only your followers can see them. Again, it’s as easy as going to your settings and tinker with the security and privacy options. Also, you can manually approve each follower’s request once your tweets are set to private.
4. Do Not Display Your Full Name and Birth Date on Snapchat
If your Snapchat profile shows your full name and the date of your birth, it’s time to tweak those settings now. From these alone, scammers can already make full use of this and find out where you live, where you work, and where you were born, which are enough to make a convincing fake profile.
Change your display name in your settings and use just your first name or a nickname. Then disable the Birthday Party feature so that Snapchat will not tell your friends that it’s your birthday.
5. Hide Your Pinterest Boards
It’s possible to make some or all of your Pinterest boards private, be it new or existing ones. Secret pins won’t show up on your home feed or when random Pinterest searches.
In order to share your secret boards, you can invite your friends to collaborate on them. This allows you to control who sees your boards and protect your information from potential scammers.
So what can you do in case someone has already stolen your social media identity? A simple Google search of your name can pull up fake profiles made in your name. If you do see one, control yourself from sending a message to that fake account. Better report it to the social network concerned.
Aside from putting your social media in private mode, continue to do the common best practices when it comes to protecting your accounts. This includes using different user names and passwords for each profile and changing your passwords regularly.
If you can, avoid sharing more than the personal data required by these accounts to make a profile. Do a Google search regularly to check for any fake profiles made under your name.
Choose the Right Executive Protection Service for Your Social Media Protection
These are good solutions already, but if ever you find yourself needing more protection regarding your online identity and activities in general, you may need an expert to help you out.
Our team is more than just providing people with physical protection—we are also about keeping you safe online. We have professionals that can help you on sensitive matters such as email encryption and background checks.
If ever you receive threats online, we can also assess this for you and work on what needs to be done to keep you safe.
Contact us at the World Protection Group today.