How Can You Protect Yourself From Identity Theft on Social Media?
Today, nearly everyone is on social media. Unfortunately, that includes the people who might not have the best intentions.
Social media seems to have gained our trust in the last few years. We share all kinds of information- our location and birthdate on the one hand, while on the other, we can share our complete CV on apps like LinkedIn and much more. However, some incidents have let this trust down many times as social media has also facilitated cybercrimes, including identity theft.
In this article, we talk about the meaning and motives of identity theft on social media. We will also discuss the ways of saving your identity from being stolen on social media.
What is Identity Theft on Social Media?
Identity theft takes place when somebody steals your personal information and credentials to commit fraud. There are many motives for this, the most common being financial gain. Or there could be personal reasons- you’ve made an enemy, your enemy wants to ruin your reputation through trolling or hate speech. Usually, this leaves the victims of this crime with damages to their finances along with their reputation.
Social media has made it pretty easy for scammers to commit crimes because of the vast availability of information. Thieves use extensive computer technology to obtain your private information like credit card details. Then they will drain your bank account by buying all the ‘big-ticket’ items like televisions or computers, which they can easily further re-sell.
Or, instead of doing all the hard work, they can conveniently email your friends and relatives from your account saying that you need cash immediately. The worst thing about this is that you won’t even know all of this is happening until you start receiving calls from creditors or get denied a loan. These are just some of the many scenarios that people face as victims of this horrendous crime.
The Uma Kompton Case: Identity Theft Gone Too Far
You may have heard of Uma Kompton, a viral internet meme circa 2016. On other platforms, too, it was a Twitter account where an average-looking woman claiming to be Uma Kompton posted her pictures with captions so vulgar and controversial that she blew up. It didn’t take her much time to reach millions of people. Her captions included incestuous, racially offensive, and simply immoral jokes that people got immediately attracted to for pure entertainment. She also released songs on YouTube. Her most famous song was about her attraction towards Donald Trump. Buzzfeed took the initiative to track down this strange woman at one point.
And guess what, the whole thing was just an awful case of identity stealing. In reality, the woman in the pictures was not Uma Kompton but a Russian woman named Natalia. Her photographs were stolen from her social media and reposted by some anonymous troll to get attention. Natalia had no clue how her face was ridiculously viral, and when told, she was miserable. Eventually, all accounts by the name Uma Kompton, and future attempts, were deleted by Twitter. Unfortunately, she would also have to live with the consequences of this mess. The troll remained anonymous.
This story tells us that you do not need to be an underworld mafia to be vulnerable to this crime. And the reasons don’t have to be monetary always. In this case, it was just trolling- and Natalia had to pay the price.
Warning Signs of Identity Theft
- Getting sign-in alerts for your account an unusual amount of times.
- Getting random OTPs.
- You are denied loans despite a good credit score.
- There is a mysterious change in your bank balance.
- You get strange emails.
- Your social media posts something you did not post.
If you notice this unusual activity, you should put it to stop at earlier stages before you have to encounter extreme losses.
What to Do During Identity Theft
When someone steals your identity, the first thing you will want to do is pretty obvious. If you have already purchased an identity theft protection plan, file a claim. Your provider will guide you further. Even if you haven’t, you can most certainly take action. First, analyze what you lost- you might have been a victim of multiple thefts at the same time. Discover the source. Have you downloaded any suspicious app/software recently that could’ve leaked your information? The next thing to do is to change all your passwords. The new passwords should not resemble the old ones. Immediately contact your banks, lenders, insurance companies, etc., to secure your records. Then, inform the police or your local cyber station to pursue the matter.
How to Protect Your Identity from Getting Stolen
- Make your personal Instagram and Facebook account private. That way, only the people you approve will see your posts.
- Change your Twitter tweets to private. They’re usually public, so to boost your security and protect yourself from scammers, you can make that change through the settings page on your Twitter.
- Search for fake profiles by your name. Report them immediately.
- Do not give private details to untrusted sites. They might sell your information to scammers.
- Purchase an identity theft protection plan.
- Enable two-factor authentication for your accounts.
- Create solid and distinct passwords for all sites.
- Monitor your credit and bank statements.
- Check your computer for viruses.
- Always research an individual or organization before handing in the necessary information.
Many people outside our bubble of friends and family are waiting to trap us on social media. All the fun that you get from social networking comes with a responsibility: to handle it with care. It would be best always to stay vigilant. I cannot stress the harms of careless use of social media enough. It is better to understand now and start taking the required measures to prevent cybercrimes before you have to face them yourself and pay the price. And the price that you will have to pay can be pretty heavy.