How to spot a social media account that's impersonating your brand

Posted by Crisp on

Impersonating a social media accountFrom scams and phishing attacks to spam and malicious links, there are many factors that can threaten a brand’s social media accounts. But when brands use these channels for customer service enquiries, moderators need to be on high-alert for another big
risk – fake accounts.

Also called angler phishing, parody accounts or phony profiles, fake customer service accounts are set up to dupe customers into sharing personal details such as their account number, full name, address and phone number. With so much valuable information in the wrong hands, tricksters are able to steal identities and financial information.

Unfortunately the longer a fake social media account goes unnoticed, the more chance tricksters have of stealing personal details. Using a combination of advanced software and skillful Risk Analysts, Crisp spot fake accounts set up for angler phishing in under 15 minutes and report them to the social media platform to close the account down.

Social media platforms work hard to stop fake accounts being set up. New accounts using brand names need verification from a brand representative that the account is genuine, before it is made live. However, fake accounts do slip through this verification process, so if you are responsible for social media in your organization, it’s good to look out for fake accounts, know how to spot them and how to report them.

Know the brand's accounts

  • Know the brand’s official social media ‘handles’. If branches or departments have separate accounts, make sure there is a central list of these too.
  • Regularly check for handles you don’t recognize. They often have a few extra letters after the brand name or include words such as ‘Ask’ or ‘Help’.

How to spot fake social media accounts

  • Don’t be fooled by pages that have the brand’s official logo and branding, that's easy to copy. Look beyond the branding.
  • Look at the ‘join date’. Avoid interacting with accounts opened in the last few months as they could have been set up specifically for the scam.
  • Be suspicious of pages with low numbers of posts, followers or friends. Official customer services pages will receive posts every day, hour or minute.

How to secure the brand’s social media accounts

  • Consider setting up two-factor authentication for the social media accounts if they are maintained by just one person. You will then log in with a password and an authentication number sent to your preferred device.
  • Make sure the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages have the verified tick badge telling visitors that the page is genuine. You can request the badge by going to the platform’s help section.
  • Add posting rules to the page bio. Companies, especially in the financial sector, should tell users to only send personal or account details using direct message (DM), never on the main feed, for example:

Twitter - keep personal details safe.jpgHow to report fake accounts

To Twitter:

To Facebook:

To Instagram:


Written by Crisp

Crisp’s mission is to provide the fastest detection of critical issues and crises to protect global brands and platforms. From supporting PRs in reputational management and helping pharma brands to remain compliant, to protecting vulnerable individuals from the exploitation of bad actors... wherever social media has the potential to trigger a crisis, you can be sure we have expertise to share.

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