Fake brand profiles are a plague on social media, and their risks and dangers shouldn’t be underestimated. Since the beginning of our new connected world, companies have been encouraged to have a presence on social media networks and engage with their followers and fans; but as always, criminals followed them on this new journey.
As discussed last week, stealing client personal and sensitive data is one of the main goals crooks try to achieve when creating fake social media brand profiles. However, hackers also have other damaging intentions such as:
- Disrupting business: customers will get frustrated and lose trust in the brand, as they keep running into fake profiles instead of the legitimate ones;
- Brand satire: cyber-criminals may wish to make fun of the brand and hijack or mock the brand’s logo, service or product. This can be very damaging to a brand. Poor brand reputation can be hard for the public to forget (the most recent example of this would be the proliferating jokes about United Airlines found online in the past few weeks)
- Selling counterfeit goods and services: fraudsters use a brand’ high reputation to lure customers into buying forged and illegitimate products;
- Political agenda: this is especially true when brands are knowingly involved with a party or support candidates during election time;
- Paid advertisement phishing: innovative scammers pay for broader distribution of their fake ads, in order to trick more people to fall for the ‘to-good-to-be-true’ offer and therefore, unsuspectedly give their personal details to criminals. Cyber-criminals also use a brand reputation to lure followers/fans into visiting junk websites, spamming them with ads and request for downloading adware;
- Distributing pornography: a small number of fake brand profiles are used by criminals to post adult content, revolting and offensive texts or images.
Note: fake accounts can also be the result of well-intentioned staff that take on themselves to create social media profiles for their company, before asking for authorization. Without being an actual threat to the brand, these types of accounts represent an annoyance for the company.
What are the Risks and Dangers of Fake Brand Profiles?
The most important danger is the risk of the brand’s customers being phished and attacked, resulting in the loss of customer trust and therefore a poor brand reputation. One hostile experience with a fraudulent profile can leave consumers with a negative brand sentiment and therefore can weaken and reduce the brands value.
Another fake profiles’ major threat is the fact that they can be very hard to spot: scammers get very crafty and smart about how to trick followers and fans, and genuine customer support teams are often unaware of what is happening in social media networks. This oblivious-state is a real danger to brand reputation: what companies don’t know can and will hurt their business.
Finally, another significant risk for businesses is the fact that these fake social media brand profiles multiply, as they are free and easy to craft, not to mention they are highly-profitable.
It would be a mistake to think that only ’top brands’ are targeted by cyber-criminals. Like any cyber-security threat, all types of businesses are targeted; no matter the size or industry. There is always a way for criminals to trick users with ’coupons’ for massive deals on furniture, ’exclusive content’ for the release of a new bike model, or even ’previews’ for a new game; the list goes on.
FraudWatch International Can Protect Your Business
Social media security is now, more than ever, one of the top cyber-threats for security and risks teams. As mentioned previously, this threat won’t go anywhere soon – on the contrary it will keep increasing.
Businesses can build and keep brand trust by having a pro-active strategy: they shouldn’t wait for their customers to point out the scams they encounter on social media – don’t leave your customers at risk!
Below are some tips to keep your brand and users safe:
Education/Communications: educating users about social media scams can be achieved by posting, from time to time, reminders on your profile about what pages or websites are legitimate for your brand. Also, communicating about how and where genuine content can be found will help customers to recognize a fake offer when they see one on a so-called brand page.
Pro-activity: by being pro-active, businesses protect their customers as well as their reputation: businesses need to have an active monitoring system and take-down services, in order to stay on top of the game and leave no chance for scammers to trick users.
Even if – and especially! – you don’t have a social media presence, you should monitor social media networks regularly: just because you don’t use it, doesn’t mean criminals won’t! Your customers will assume you are living in the 21st century and that you are on social media, so they won’t think twice when they will contact your staff on social media platforms. Even if you don’t use it often, your brand should have a profile on the main social media network: perhaps just to explain that the customer service can be contacted at that number only.
FraudWatch International provides 24/7 monitoring of these fake social media profiles and with our fast takedown times, our service reduces the risk of damaging your brands reputation.
FraudWatch International ensures that only legitimate content relating to your brand is available on social media platforms.
Research shows that 79% of CISOs don’t have social media monitoring, or find that their security strategy for social media is inadequate or insufficient. Does this describe your company? Then, contact FraudWatch International without delay, by filling in the Sales Enquiry form on the top right of this page!