With the rise of social media use, fake accounts are becoming a common concern. Facebook recently announced that they removed 583 million fake accounts, a quarter of the website’s user base. These fraudulent accounts are more than just an inflation of followers. They are used for a wide variety of reasons, from spreading fake news to money laundering and committing fraud. Oftentimes, they are bots based on real people’s profiles that spread malicious links or spam.

Fake accounts are getting harder to spot. Oftentimes, they look as convincing as accounts that are legitimate. Interacting with fake accounts is dangerous because hackers can access to your personal information. Last year, hackers accessed the computer of an employee of the U.S Defense Department after his wife interacted with a fake account on Twitter. It’s important to protect yourself from fake accounts.

fake accounts
Source: Helpnet Security

FOUR WAYS TO SPOT FAKE ACCOUNTS

Double check links and names
At a glance, a fake account might look legitimate. It appears to have the same photos and posts as a reputable account. But if you look closely at a person’s username, you might notice that it’s slightly different. For example, an account might use an uppercase “i” to pose as the letter “l” to trick you into thinking that the account is real. Fake accounts can copy a person’s account, but they can’t duplicate usernames. Pay close attention to names and URLs when looking at an account.

Analyze the account
A good indication of a fake account is the photos they use and the number of followers they have. Since fake accounts aren’t attached to real people, they will sometimes use stock photos of people or objects. To verify a person’s image, you can use a Google reverse image search. Similarly, fake accounts will have a suspicious looking number of followers. Usually, their follower count will either be greatly inflated or quite small.

Assess the content
An account filled with shortened links or repeated posts using the same language is probably fake. These accounts won’t go into the effort of posing as a fake person because they only want to spread spam or malicious links. If there are text posts, they are often awkwardly worded and incoherent.

Check their messages
Fake accounts try to interact with you by commenting or liking your posts. They want your attention so that you will click on their links. Sometimes, they will message you directly. These messages are a type of phishing scam where they try to get your personal information by sending links or attachments. They also try to scam you with offers of money or good deals on vacations. If the message looks too good to be true it probably is.

PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM FAKE ACCOUNTS

As businesses expand into the digital realm, it’s important to be vigilant online. If you think you’re interacting with a fake account, don’t click on any links that they send or are on their page. Immediately report the user and block them from your account.