When someone steals your identity on social media
Your data is valuable to criminals. If you want to be safe from scams you also have to protect your personal data on the internet.
How does this work?
Even if all your accounts on social media are “private” and all usual security measures have been taken, you still have to be careful. Even if you don’t give away too much information about yourself (like pictures, videos, status posts etc.) scammers still have ways to trick you into giving away private data (Names, email address, passwords, credit card numbers so on). All these things can be used to steal your identity.
That’s how your personal data helps scammers:
- They can use your credit card data to withdraw money, open bank accounts or enter into a mobile phone contract.
- They can take on a loan in your name.
- Sell your data to others.
- They can do illegal business in your name.
Many of these tricks work in a similar way, here’s the most common ways:
- Twishing (Twitter phishig): Someone sends you a private message on Twitter asking you to visit a specific website. If you log into that website they get your account data (username and password)
- “Who visited your profile?”: Services which promise you an answer to that question will request access to your profile, then redirect you to a questionnaire which in turn will ask you for your personal data. For each person that fills out the questionnaire the scammer earns a commission. Plus you will never learn who visited your profile
- “Is this you in this video?”: Someone sends you a private message asking you if you’re in a certain Youtube video. If you click on that link you get redirected to another questionnair asking you to type in your data. You may also infect your device with malware.
- “Your account has been deleted “,” Confirm your e-mail account”: In this scam they want to trigger you into typing in your private data and account login by scaring you into thinking your account may be lost.
- Scam via fake gift vouchers for popular malls or stores: They lure you in with promises of gift vouchers or spectacular deals to give away your data or to order overpriced products. These offers appear each month and sound too good to be true – which they aren’t. You will never get any vouchers or products, you just will get scammed.
- Free product samples: Here some offers claim to give away free samples to trick you into ordering products or subscriptions. But you’ll never know what you actually be paying for or if you’re actually getting something for it.
- “Earn lots of money from home!”: If someone offers you a job for which you have to pay a fee in advance, it’s most certainly a scam. You will see these kind of ads everywhere on social media. They redirect you to an offer which sells you equipment with a promise it will earn you lots of money in the future. You could be asked for a lot of personal data, ranging from tax ID to copies of your passport or drivers’ licence. Some of these job offers can actually be a disguise for money laundering. They ask you to accept money from their bank account for a fee so you can transfer that money to a foreign company afterwards. You would be acting as a financial agent for a criminal organization! That’s a crime.
- “I need help!”: A person who claims to be a relative of yours is asking you for money because they are in dire straits is writing you in social media. The scammer acts desperate and asks you to transfer money to him. Sometimes they establish contact via telephone, email or text.
What can be done?
- If you want to login somewhere with your account data, always go directly to the website, never use links which claim to redirect you there!
- Always be careful what information or pictures you post on social media. Scammers could use these to forge a fake identity or identify you as potential victim.
- Check your personal security settings for each of your social media accounts. Take the time to understand what parts of your profile are public. To a Google search for yourself. Always do a Google search for products or job offers you get and look what others are saying about that. You can always combine these searches with words like “scam”, “check” or “fake”.
- Report profiles which seem to engage in scam activities to the social media sites. If they “follow” you or send you a friend request, block them. Avoid any contact whatsoever.
- Check your statements of account and your financial transactions. If you spot a charge you didn’t approve, contact your bank or credit card provider.