Social Media Encouraging Identity Theft?

  • Identity Theft

In 2010, an American documentary coined the term catfish as way to describe fake identities being created via social media. This small production soon gained major popularity as viewers reached out to the main character, Nev, about their own experiences with people creating fake identities. As the popularity grew, MTV soon adopted the concept and gave the creators of Catfish their very own reality TV series. In most recent news, Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Teo, has been blowing up the media with the latest catfish scheme involving his supposed girlfriend. The stolen identity behind the account had a full functioning Facebook and Twitter account that interacted with Teo in a very natural way. It wasnt until her death from a car accident that Teo and the media soon found that he had been a victim of an identity theft who had ticked him with a catfish identity. There is still debate whether or not Teo was in on the scheme or not. Beyond the social photos poking fun at Teo and his fake girlfriend, other companies have taken this identity theft phenomenon to another level.

A Brazil-based company has developed a site where users can buy a fake girlfriend for as little as $10 for 3 days. Each price package includes a promised amount of Facebook comments, relationship statuses, and more. While some may find this fake Facebook girlfriend idea very assuming and clever, it certainly raises some eyebrows in the online identity theft industry. Is catfishing and companies like making light of, and encouraging identity theft? Social media already poses one of the biggest privacy threats online, and this new sensation is now glorifying the idea of hiding behind someone elses face to create a fake identity. Companies should be aware of this newest movement especially as more businesses move to online-only models and more employees are working remotely from home. It would be too easy for someone to steal an identity and then create fake social media accounts behind this stolen identity to get a job and/or date someone.

Identity theft is not something that should be mocked or encouraged. Online identity verification and authentication will become more important than ever, especially in the social media landscape. Right now, all a thief needs an email account and access to the Internet to steal someone elses photos, and the possibilities are endless from there. Protect yourself and business by knowing the risks and implementing fraud prevention before you find your face behind another name.

[Contributed by EVS Marketing]