Social media identity theft is one such term that not only takes away your personal life but also ruins your social status. Social sites have millions of users that share their precious moments with others in the form of pictures, statuses, posts etc. these sites help people connect to the ones far apart from them these social websites are a “Den” where identity thieves turn up so frequently these days. Anyone can use your name, other credentials and use it for fraud and this lands onto social media identity theft.
The social sites have become a platform to be misused by the frauds and them very easily hack the passwords of any user. They keep a track on the user’s activity logs and read their personal chats, send or accept requests from unknown people and in the worst cases misuse their identities for criminal purposes. These identity thieves may portray themselves as you and can target your friends that also disturbs your normal life cycle.
There are children who have a tendency to surf the internet and they are more adept at using it more than their parents. These young children do not understand the consequences of posting private information to share it with their friends. Thus, children may also face such thefts in their future and the term is known as child identity theft.
We came across a case where Chrystal Trammell, a resident of Johnston County, North Carolina and a single mother, became a victim of social security identity theft which is one of the most common types of identity theft. Rebecca Nakutis, the wife of Trammell’s ex-husband, created a fake Facebook page using Trammell’s personal information.
The reason why Nakutis created the fake Facebook page was that Trammell was involved in the child custody dispute with Nakutis’ husband. Nakutis collected the Facebook message threats which she only created, to file a restraining order against Trammell so that the custody dispute comes in her husband’s favour.
Eventually, Trammell got a restraining order from the court.
“She created this Facebook page in order to harass herself, her mother, and her friends, in order to press charges against me,” said Trammell. “There wasn’t a lot of status updates. What she was doing was messaging people (using the fake page). I was horrified, disgusted that anybody was sick enough to think of this.”
Fortunately, Trammell found out about the fake Facebook page. After discovering the fake Facebook page, she immediately contacted Johnston County Sheriff’s office. Clearly, Trammell was worried about her stolen identity and the restraining order as it would decrease her probability of getting a good job as she was a recent college graduate at that time. She spent a lot of money to pay her lawyers so that the restraining order against her could be dropped.
The police tracked the IP address of the fake account and discovered Nakutis’ location. As a result, charges were filed against Nakutis and she was arrested for identity theft after an 8-month investigation. Also, Johnston County removed the restraining order against Trammell.
“There’s truth in the details and through cooperation with Facebook and investigating the IP addresses where this Facebook page was created, you know the truth has come out,” said Trammell.
It is essential to know that the identity thief may not only be a stranger but may also be someone known from your family. Spousal identity thefts are also common in such case when the spouse steals his/her partner’s identity for financial gains. We have listed some steps that might save you from social media identity theft:
1. Install password protection software on your computer or laptop or phone because people use these social networking sites on a very frequent order.
2. Review your privacy settings on every social media account that whatever information you share be it posts, images or statuses, shall be viewed by people whom you choose.
3. You should never share your travel plans on your social media pages because the thieves might get to know that you are out of town and they get sufficient time to rob you.
4. Share guidelines with your children so that they may also know what steps have to be taken to protect themselves from theft attacks.
Looking up at this incident, it seems that such ID theft incidents are horrible and for Trammell, it was not less than a nightmare. Not only Trammell but her whole family got affected by this episode. With this story, we can have an idea about the dangers of social media. We should be aware of social media safety and should take immediate measures beforehand in order to avoid such cases to happen to us.