How Is Social Media Used for Identity Theft?

Identity theft is only becoming more prevalent throughout the world as people share more and more information online and cybercriminals become stealthier and more sophisticated in their approaches. 

When someone steals another person’s identity, they can file taxes, make purchases, open accounts, and more. 

There are ways that people can find your personal information online to steal your identity. For example, many states allow open access to criminal records, marriage, and divorce information, your address, and more. 

An increasingly popular way to get information that can be used to steal personal information is through social media.  


When you put your personal information on social media, cybercriminals can use what’s called scraping to piece things together that will allow them to steal your identity. 

The following are important things every consumer should know right now about the use of social media for identity theft. 

Creating Fraudulent Profiles

One way that bad actors take advantage of social media is by creating fraudulent profiles. Criminals can create and clone someone else’s account and then try to steal their identity in the process. 

The account can be used to get information or force them to send money. These accounts are also used to spread misinformation. 

These are called social engineering attacks, and they’re more significant than even the immediate losses stemming from malicious activities. 

If your profile is copied, then you can become associated with whatever the impersonator is doing, meaning damage to your reputation. 

When cybercriminals set up copycat accounts, they look extremely similar. Then the person can claim their original account was hacked or they can’t remember their password. From there, they can do any number of things to scam others. A popular one right now is creating duplicate profiles to gain trust and then sharing recommendations on cryptocurrency or NFTs to invest in. 

These fraudulent profile attacks have a negative impact not only at the individual level but also on the users of social media platforms. There’s a loss of trust because these platforms are seen as being unable to protect users. That means that users will, in response, often change their habits. For example, users could switch to a platform they see as being more secure, or they could limit their use of what they see as a risky platform. 

The Risks of Oversharing

Along with the potential to create duplicate profiles and scam people you know, when you overshare on social media, it also puts you at risk of identity theft

There are so many ways people overshare on a daily basis. 

One example is telling people when you’re not at home. This could mean that you’re traveling, but it could also simply mean that you’re going to work or the gym, and you’re sharing that. You are exposing personal information about the places you go, and you’re also letting people know you at your personal residence.  

You should turn off your geotags on your photos and posts, which are often turned on by default on social media. If you don’t turn your geotags off, then hackers can trace where you are when you’re creating posts or uploading your photos. 

You also have to be mindful of posting photos that have personal data. 

For example, if you’re sharing an offer letter from a new job or your vaccine card, people can steal your personal information and try to then steal your entire identity or hack financial accounts. 

Many social network sites have opportunities for users to fill in certain personal information that’s displayed on their profile. Maybe you put your birthday or your phone number. This information, when an identity thief gets it, can create major risks. For example, you might be giving answers to common security questions that are used on financial accounts. 

Limit What You Share

The best way to protect yourself on social media is to limit what you share. The following are things that can be taken from your profiles and sued to then steal your identity:

  • Your full name, and especially your middle name
  • Date of birth
  • Where you were born
  • Your relationship status
  • School names and graduation dates
  • Pet names

Other best practices on social media include:

  • Never give out your driver’s license or social security numbers
  • Change your passwords regularly
  • Don’t ever give out usernames and passwords to third parties
  • Only connect with people you know in person and have met

Finally, look up your background on a regular basis and monitor your credit to make sure there’s nothing floating around that could indicate your identity has been stolen from social media information or elsewhere. 

Work done by a Team Of Security Experts from Cyber Security News