The internet is a place where people can pretend to be pretty much anyone they want. And while social media offers a multitude of benefits, such as staying connected with friends and marketing businesses, it’s also easy for tricksters to pose as someone else. Brand impersonation online is a type of digital identity theft that can happen to anyone, from the everyday person to celebrities and executive organisations.
In this deep-dive, we’re going to look at executive impersonation specifically, so businesses can get a grasp on why impersonation on social media could be a threat, and what they can do to stop it.
What is social media impersonation?
Social media impersonation involves a scammer creating a false profile on a social media platform, pretending to be a person or business they’re not. This profile will probably include a false name, photo, location and bio, and the impersonator does it with a view to exploit those that interact with the fake account.
In the first half of 2020 alone, $1.26 million was lost in Australia due to government impersonation scams – with fraudsters texting victims claiming to be from myGov or various superannuation companies. False impersonation via social media takes a similar approach, except it communicates with victims via the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Why is that a problem?
Why should executive organisations in particular be on alert for Instagram impersonation, Twitter impersonation and other false accounts across the social media sphere?
In today’s society, businesses rely heavily on social media to build relationships and establish a positive reputation with their customers. For executive organisations, this is amplified, and it’s even more important to manage the risks of social media. That’s because, when this control over reputation is taken away, it can be hugely damaging to a business.
Criminals might carry out false impersonation on social media for a number of reasons:
- Phishing attack: To obtain the personal data or bank details of your social media followers.
- Counterfeiting: To send victims to a website that looks similar to a trusted business, in order to sell inauthentic products for a profit.
- Fake news: To post false or damaging information about a brand.
So, there’s more at stake than just your business’ reputation; the business and its customers also risk losing money.
How to stop social media impersonation
The best approach here is a proactive one. Social media platforms are limited by how much they can stop fraudsters, so organisations have to take things into their own hands to avoid any false impersonation from slipping through the net.
- Carry out regular searches on social media channels related to your brand name and industry. Consider broad keywords, narrow keywords, possible brand name misspellings and separations. Monitor the hashtags associated with your account too.
- Image and logo recognition tools help you find false accounts using your company’s visuals.
- Launch a brand protection strategy that covers not only social media impersonation but also fake domain names and app stores related to your brand.
Once you spot an account impersonating your business, avoid contacting them directly. Most companies have a way of reporting this and for the most part, they take this kind of thing seriously – with Reddit officially banning impersonation in 2020.
Contact FraudWatch to learn about our social media impersonation solutions, and to proactively protect your executive organisation from the very real threat. You’ve likely put a lot of time and money into your marketing – so don’t let a scammer reverse the hard work.