Social Networking allows Business ID Fraud
Businesses using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter do not have enough protection against damaging “cyber-squatters”, online business network Ecademy has warned, writes Kate Horstead.
According to Ecademy, fraudsters are taking advantage of inadequate verification procedures on some social networking sites, and cyber-squatting. This is a process where fraudsters set up accounts with similar names to existing members, and use them to express opinions or release false information that can damage that individual’s reputation.
“With the rise in cases of identity theft across the web, anonymous abuse and cyber-bullying, online networkers need reassurance that social networks are doing everything they can to ensure the web is a trusted and safe place to communicate, socialise and do business,”
said Ecademy co-founder, Penny Power.
“Social media relies heavily on trust and building a good relationship with your followers. Cyber-squatters can completely ruin that trust and can seriously damage your business and reputation. Safer online networking needs to become a top priority for all online networks.”
Ecademy co-founder, Thomas Power, added that business owners using social networking websites should use their actual name when creating a profile, rather than the business name or a nickname.
“You should go on to business networks as a person, because people are more interested in who you are than what you do,” said Power. “We encourage people to talk about who they are first so people make a genuine connection, which then makes it less likely that they will believe fraudsters who claim to be them or their business.”
Ecademy has called on all social networks to introduce more stringent verification methods to protect their members, for example by using software that can match members’ credit card details to their names.
Facebook spokeswoman, Sophy Silver, said:
“We don’t have a problem with people impersonating others on the site. I don’t think Thomas Power has enough understanding of how Facebook works.
“For example, Marks & Spencer has a page and it has an ongoing dialogue with its customers,” she added. “If you were another business trying to be them you wouldn’t have that engagement.
“Facebook has a strong policy of protecting its members. If someone is veering into the area of being an impostor or lying about who they are, people can report it to us and we take things down if they are damaging.”
Get Safe Online spokesman, Tony Neate, said that business owners should be cautious when using social networks, but that there is no obligation for social networks to improve security.
“Generally there is a different expectation from users of social networks than from people visiting online retailers — they don’t expect the people using social networking sites to have been verified,” he said.
Cyber-squatting is a common occurrence on Twitter, where many celebrities, including Lily Allen and David Hasselhoff, and business owners, including Thomas Power, have had their brand taken over by impersonators.