What do you do if someone steals your identity on social media?
Recently, someone stole my content on Instagram and from Facebook and created a parody account. This person was pretending to me and even started following my followers. When the imposter was asked why she/he decided to create an account using my name she/he claimed that they we’re backing up my content.
Long story short, for some time it felt as if my identity had been stolen, you can imagine someone using your images and content pretending to be you and for no good reason, unless just to frustrate you or to con people using your images.
So what do you do when someone does this?
1. Vet your friend/contact list
Scammers often send people friend requests in order to obtain details about their lives, which they can then utilize maliciously against them. It is very important to ensure that you are connected via social media to only people you know, are friends with, or can at least trust.
2. Be proactive
In my case, I immediately posted to Facebook AND Instagram several warnings to my friends and followers that someone was impersonating me and to immediately block his account.
However, it’s worth sending out an advance announcement to tell people you will never create an alternate account to connect with them and to be wary of any such requests or attempts. Inform people to contact you directly at your existing account if this ever occurs; this will help reduce the risks to all involved. If people know your existing social media account is the one you actively use, they won’t be fooled by connections/friend requests from new ones.
3. Stay calm
It’s extremely disturbing to see someone pretend to be you online. An imposter can pose a risk to your reputation, friendships, and even your career. Throughout this grim process I had to fight to stay focused on not become mired in “What if.”
4. Get screenshots
Take screenshots of the imposter’s account and all related activities they may engage in. This can come in handy if they block you or the bogus account is removed. Do this via your phone or computer (look up instructions as these will vary across devices and operating systems).
5. Send out a warning to all your contacts
Notify everyone you know on social media immediately about what is happening and that they must not interact with or respond to the imposter. Provide the full account name/information to your associates to tell them who to watch out for.
6. Don’t contact the imposter
I tried talking to the imposter and it was a pure waste of time. I asked the imposter what her/his name was and the imposter replied and wrote “hey my name is Vanessa” how creepy is this? Chances are, this person wants to get on your last nerve and if you let him/her do it they can get satisfaction from doing so.
7. Report the imposter
However, I found it very easy to click on the details of the Instagram account and report it. Simply click the three horizontal dots (…) appearing on the account page and choose “Report user.”
The process will vary among other social media platforms but should be similarly straightforward (you can always Google the process for the latest details). I reported the user for using a false profile impersonating me and submitted the report.
I also encouraged everyone to report the account, I posted on my feed that someone was stealing my identity and people we’re quite helpful.