Theft of sensitive information and money can damage the consumers’ confidence and ultimately lead to financial and reputational harms for your organization.
This article will analyze the many sorts of impersonation and how companies can fight back.
What is Brand Impersonation on Social Media?
Fraudulent use of a business name, image, or other identifying aspects is known as brand impersonation or business identity theft on social media. The act of pretending to be someone else on social media sites, in general, is what we mean by this term. As opposed to fan accounts, parodies, and informative pages, social media impersonation is a kind of fraud.
Scope of the Problem
In many cases, brands without an official account are a prime target for scammers who will try to take advantage of this weakness to trick the brand’s fans.
Brands that have a significant number of followers, posts, campaigns, etc. are also good targets for impersonators since they know there is a vast base of brand customers who may be defrauded by the impersonators.
Fake accounts often use the same images, names, hashtags, and other details as legitimate ones. To avoid detection, scammers often pretend to be customer service pages, raffles, sweepstakes, etc. One of the goals of impersonating social media accounts is accumulating followers. Once the impersonating account has followers the opportunity to scam customers or potential customers is now in place. Having few posts does not suggest that an account is risk-free; it may be sending private messages or running aggressive ad campaigns on the social network and driving people impacted to external web pages on which to swindle them.
It can take up to a few days for freshly formed social media profiles to show up in search results on many networks. Ad campaigns that directly target customers of a business are a common tactic of the most skilled impersonators during these times of reduced visibility.
Types of Social Media Impersonation
From phishing schemes asking for personal information to be sent to an external account to full-blown online fraud where you buy things from unauthorized dealers, there are many different sorts of impersonation to choose from nowadays. Scammers have taken on the personas of well-known brands in the following ways:
Phishing: By posing as a brand or its staff, scammers try to get access to critical client information, such as passwords or bank account information. Many consumer goods companies increasingly rely on social media to communicate with their customers, and as a result, they are particularly vulnerable to these tactics.
Counterfeiting: Brand pages that attempt to fool customers by selling them counterfeit goods are known as “counterfeiting.” It is common for them to use aggressive advertising strategies that target brand consumers and route them to a non-social network website where the transaction takes place. This is a common occurrence in a wide range of businesses including the consumer goods industry.
Scams: Several of the most common Internet scams (coupons, romance fraud, the 491 scams, account takeover, etc.) have their roots in the theft of personal information through social media.
Impact of Impersonation on Brands
In many instances identity theft to a brand’s customers or potential customers damages a company’s reputation and so reduces its profit margins. The following are the most damaging consequences for businesses:
Reputational damage to the brand
Reputation is one of the most significant and vulnerable assets of your organization. Customers, business partners, and creditors all have an impact on the quality of your connections. An identity theft attack can have a significant impact on your company’s reputation and customer trust.
Customer trust is eroded.
In the event that customers fall prey to fake websites, they may wind up purchasing counterfeit products or not receiving the goods they paid for. Fake social media profiles are also a form of deception. If a customer is dissatisfied with their purchase, they are more likely to shop elsewhere.
Especially for small enterprises with little financial resources, significant income losses constitute a significant risk. It is possible that business owners are unable to keep up with payments to their employees, partners, vendors, or investors. The same holds true when it comes to keeping up with tax duties or purchasing supplies.
How to Prevent Social Media Impersonation
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to social impersonation:
Automation: In the most extreme circumstances, the use of technology to track and report infractions on a daily basis is a need. In order to prevent rogue accounts from growing their follower base and causing harm, it is crucial to be consistent and quick in reporting them.
Broad Keywords: In addition to the brand name, all possible variations of the brand name should be searched for (misspelling, separations, alphanumeric combinations, etc.). It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for popular hashtags and phrases being used by government entities.
Logo recognition: In order to eliminate false positives and establish the degree of criticality and danger of confusion, image, and logo recognition models can help identify the existence of logos and other distinctive brand signals in profile photographs.
Risk and similarity scores: Analyzing account attributes like name, description and images can assist estimate the importance of a given account or how likely it is to be mistaken for an official account, which is an important consideration when prioritizing enforcement efforts.
If you want to safeguard your brand, you need to go beyond social media to places like domain names, websites, and app stores, as well.
As a summary, these are key action items brands should follow:
- This issue requires synergies with your social media team and customer service team. It is crucial the company’s social media team monitors comments or direct messages as well as receiving feedback from customer care team calls.
- Brands should regularly research their own social media channels to see if there are more than one account under their name on it.
Impersonations on social media are a rising issue affecting hundreds of brands and individuals. The risks include revenue, traffic, and most importantly, reputational difficulties and consumer trust.
Brands must be proactive in preventing infringements by implementing a thorough and scalable protection strategy. This strategy’s success depends on technology and best in class Impersonal Removal services.