Brand Protection
4 mins

Impersonation scams: What you need to know about 

Impersonation scams: What you need to know about 
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Impersonation scams have increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic as fraudsters exploit confusion around shifts in the economy. The Federal Trade Commission stated that costs from impersonation scams have skyrocketed to $2 billion in losses from 2020 to 2021 (an 85% increase).  

Impersonators disguise themselves with stolen identities in many ways to make a profit. In this article, we shed a light on the most common impersonation scams and show you how to tackle them. 

Summary:

  • Most common impersonation scams to watch out for 
  • How to safeguard your business from impersonation scams 

What is an impersonation scam

Impersonation scams are practices of copying identifying elements of a person, brand or organization for fraudulent purposes. Simply put, an impersonator pretends to be someone else to get an advantage. This motivation usually lies in stealing sensitive data or selling counterfeit products. 

As we will see in this article, impersonation scams go far beyond someone calling you asking for your bank details because you allegedly won the lottery. In today’s online world, infringers have multiple options for sophisticated impersonation scams. Read on to get a picture of the most common impersonation scams and learn how you can deal with them.  

Types of impersonation scams

These are the most common impersonation scams you should safeguard your business from:

Fake social media accounts

Impersonators create fake social media accounts that copy the names, images, logos, or other identifying information of a person, brand or organization for deceitful purposes. Creating fake social media accounts is one of the easiest forms of impersonation for scammers, which explains the drastic number of fake social media accounts. As an example, Facebook alone removed about 1.8 billion fake accounts in the third quarter of 2021, up from 1.3 billion fake accounts in the corresponding quarter in 2020. 

Scammers take advantage of the fact that it can take several days until newly created accounts are detectable. Impersonators exploit these timeframes of less visibility to target customers with aggressive fake advertising campaigns. In a second step, customers are often redirected to a website outside the social network where the scammer sells counterfeit products pretending to be the real brand. 

Fake mobile apps

Fake mobile apps impersonate businesses by copying the design and/or function of legitimate apps. These fraudulent apps execute different malicious actions after downloading them, often unnoticeable by the user. Scammers try to profit from consumers who are unaware that they are downloading a fake app in various ways. These include: 

  • Charging a fee for the fake app
  • Carrying out advertisements to generate revenue
  • Stealing sensitive data and information
  • Diverting payments and revenues to illegal sites 
  • Executing ransomware attacks
  • Selling counterfeit products

Domain spoofing 

Domain spoofing is a frequently executed impersonation scam that refers to the creation of fake web addresses to defraud customers or employees of a company. Scammers usually create look-a-like websites that copy the appearance of an existing business website including its layout, product listings and trademarks of the brand. Those copied websites often look identical to the original website or contain only slight differences which are difficult to detect by visitors. 

Impersonators use two different spoofing techniques to create these fake web addresses, cybersquatting and typosquatting. 

Cybersquatting

This technique refers to the unauthorized registration and use of domain names of already existing brands and their trademarks. This often happens when businesses fail to register possible domain names for their brands. 

Infringers usually profit from cybersquatting in two ways. One option is trying to sell the domain name back to the original business at a multiple. The other one is using the fake web address for selling counterfeits of the original brand. That way, in addition to imitating the website design, scammers also copy the products of the brand and try to sell them to unaware customers. 

Typosquatting 

Typosquatting is the registration of slight variations or misspellings of a genuine domain name like “facebok.com” instead of “facebook.com”. Typo domains often transfer users to fake websites or landing pages that execute a variety of vicious actions that generate profits for the host. 

Typo websites often trick users into revealing personal data or install malware or adware on the device of the user. Another popular typosquatting scam is offering products that are never sent to the buyer after receiving the payment. 

Phishing emails 

As outlined above, scammers try to steal personal data from users through fake apps and domain spoofing scams. However, infringers also target companies to steal sensitive business or customer information. Impersonators do so by implementing a brand’s logo or name in emails pretending to be someone from the company and asking employees to reveal certain information. 

That way, scammers seek to get a company’s banking information, customer data like social security numbers, passwords or bank details. This information can be used by scammers for further frauds like obtaining loans or credit cards in the companies name for example. 

How to tackle impersonation scams

Impersonators execute their scams on multiple platforms and in various ways. Therefore, you need a protection approach that is capable of finding and removing impersonation threats efficiently online. 

Some protective steps can be done manually. Registering your IP gives you proof of ownership and makes enforcement easier if someone is stealing and using your identity online. You can also report fake impersonation accounts to the respective social media platforms.

On our blog, we provide step-by-step guides on how to report an impersonation account on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Detect and remove impersonation scams with technology 

Tackling impersonation scams manually has a few fundamental hurdles. The biggest issue is the vast number of options for scammers to impersonate your business online. Cybercriminals can set up fake accounts in no time and often register a new domain or account quickly after an impersonation has been taken down. Additionally, not all social media platforms are quick and efficient about removing fake accounts. 

You can bypass these obstacles by working with technology-based solutions that stop impersonations scams at scale.  

Red Points Impersonation Removal Software is an all-encompassing solution to protect your business from impersonation scams. It automatically detects and removes fake websites, domains, social media accounts, and apps to protect your clients, reputation and revenues around the clock. Impersonation scams mean revenue losses for your business and our solution can help to recover your revenues.

What’s next

Let’s summarize the key points from what we have learned: 

  • Impersonation scams come in various forms, including fake accounts, apps, websites and phishing attacks.
  • Scammers seek to obtain sensitive data or money from their attacks through financial fraud, app fraud or selling counterfeits and squatted domains.
  • The best way to efficiently tackle impersonation scams is by applying special technology solutions that protect your business at scale.

Red Points Impersonation Protection Software safeguards your brand from impersonation scams around the clock. Reach out to us today to learn more about our service.

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