Bloggers and social media users facing constant identity theft and fraud problems
Millions of people throughout the world share their lives on blogs and social media sites, but what are the risks associated with the social sharing of our lives. Online voucher site My Voucher Codes has taken a close look at what can happen when your identity has been stolen online.
From fake Instagram and Twitter profiles and promoting other user’s photo’s as their own to bloggers having website and social details stolen to obtain free goods fraudulently, it is a worrying trend which is only set to increase as people share more and more online.
Investigating the rise of catfishing, identity theft and fraud conducted online, www.myvouchercodes.co.uk spoke to bloggers and social media user to find out the effects of identity fraud on those who had their lives hijacked by others and the precautions that they now take.
Exposed – 23% of social media users have had images used by someone else without permission
To find out how many people have been affected by identity theft online My Voucher Codes surveyed Instagram, Facebook and Twitter users and asked: “Have your own images or photographs being used by other people without your permission?” They found a staggering 23% had found their photo’s being used by other people without permission.
Fake Facebook Profiles
One woman who found a fake Facebook profile using her pictures was April Yau. One of her friends alerted her to the fake account of “Jennifer Chen” which featured images which were not public photos. Her pictures were only visible to her friends, but somehow the fake user had accessed them, even posting one of her while she was in hospital. When she reported the theft Facebook refused to take the profile down because they said: “This person is not violating the terms of service or the privacy conditions.”
It wasn’t until local media picked up the story that Facebook changed their mind and removed the profile, which featured many of April’s photos.
You might be mistaken in thinking it was an oversight on the security settings, however April, who is an account manager with Vancouver’s 6S Marketing, understood the settings, only allowing her Facebook friends access to the images and in some cases only close family or friends.
Since then, April has received correspondence from someone else who claims they have been scammed for money by someone using this profile, however April is hesitant to respond, due to not knowing if this is also a scam or someone else looking for attention.
Bloggers who have identity stolen
Identity theft and fraud amongst bloggers is becoming a big issue, many people rely on their blogs as their main source of income and even those who are hobbyists put time and money into running their blogs. However there are some people who take advantage of these bloggers hard work by requesting products and services from brands by pretending to be the bloggers in question.
Blogger Em from www.emtalks.co.uk only discovered someone had been pretending to be her when she was tweeted and emailed by companies telling her that the products she had requested were on their way despite her never having made contact with the companies herself.
One of the companies involved showed Em ‘her’ initial contact form. The form contained the correct blog and social media account details, but the email and delivery address did not belong to Em. She contacting the police and the fraud protection about this identity theft however is still waiting to hear back from them.
Another blogger caught out by online fraud is Gemma from www.mymillsbaby.co.uk who found someone had been using her name and email to leave comments on other blogs as well as someone creating a fan page for My Mills Baby on Facebook adding Gemma as admin without her permission.
Unfortunately with all the online work bloggers deal with daily, they are also susceptible to other scams, Gemma was also a victim of a phishing scam (where users are sent emails looking to be from reputable companies, to get them to reveal personal information including passwords and credit card numbers), which saw her lose up to £300 through PayPal, fortunately her bank recouped the money lost. However the troubles didn’t stop there as her card was also cloned after she entered her details on to another professional-looking site.
Experienced catfishing first hand
Meg from www.boringcapetownchick.com would interview women in creative roles for her blog. One person she contacted claimed to be a poet and model, whose parents were dead and also claimed to be a deaf surfer. This person had used images of a UK based model and when the catfishing identity theft was uncovered the models agent contacted Meg to remove the images. The whole story then unravelled, leading to more people discovering they had also been catfished by the same person.
Speaking about the online threats to bloggers and social media users Mark Pearson said:
“Many people make their livelihoods online now, with blogging becoming a popular full time job for many people. It’s a shame that there are those out there who want to take advantage of the hard work of others and pass off blogs or social media accounts as their own, to gain free products, items or payments from brands. This is identity theft and fraud, pure and simple.”
“Our main concern is that cases such as these are on the increase, especially with the next generation being brought up believing its normal to share their life online that we see more lives ruined. It’s important for all social media users and bloggers to be aware of security options out there and keep an eye on what they share online.”