Is your personal information safe on your social media sites? Unfortunately, many people will accept any friend requests they receive putting them at greater risk for identity theft. In the increasingly active world of identity theft criminals have to find ways gather information on their victims. One common way of gathering information is to set up fake social media accounts, known as sockpuppets, and use the fake accounts to “friend” people. Obviously, the criminals don’t want to use their real names or social media accounts because these would be easy to trace in an identity theft investigation.
The criminals start by getting fake personal information on websites like fakenamegenerator.com. This website produces a fake name, address, birthdate, phone number mother’s maiden name, etc. It also gives you the opportunity to validate the fake Social Security number you help generate. To further backstop the fake identity the criminal is provided with an email address, employment information, height, weight, blood type, and a credit card number with and expiration date and CVV number.
Once the criminals have the fictitious identity information thy open accounts on social media websites, dating websites, etc. in order to gather information. They send out multitudes of friend requests to everyone they can find on the sites. Similar to a phishing email they are hoping you will accept their friend request. Once you accept they have access to your information and the information of your other friends.
To protect yourself take a little extra time to look at the profile of the person sending you a friend request, unless of course you know them already. To spot a sockpuppet look for few if any postings, few pictures, only one or two employers, no group membership, one or two schools, one or two addresses, etc. Another give away is few if any recommendations. Usually the criminals don’t take the time to fully develop the sockpuppet profile. There could be major gaps in their employment history or they have worked for 20+ years in the same entry level job.
Remember to be skeptical whenever you receive a friend request from someone you haven’t met in person.