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As technology advances, so too does the scope for organised crime. This is an increasing issue online, with fraudulent activity now growing a whole new persona in the digital world. One of the main issues that has risen is the use of fake profiles and the photos of others to scam others into releasing information.

So, legally speaking, what can you do if someone is making false profiles of you on social media to scam others? Mark Woloshak, Senior Associate and Head of Litigation Department explores this subject from a legal perspective and provides his advice.

 

Tackling Social Media Scamming

This is a growing problem amongst social media users. It is also linked with other unwelcome developments within social media, such as fraudsters creating fake sites to obtain credit card information and the dissemination of fake news.

Because of these problems regulatory authorities are considering what steps can be taken to force Platform providers to do more to prevent this from happening. For example, the EU prepared a study in February to consider this problem. As well as this, platform providers are already blocking an eye-watering amount of attempts to create false accounts every day.

Be that as it may, the number of internet users and the sophisticated way that profiles are wrongly created means that this remains a very great problem. There is also no specific law in place to hold a social media platform liable for the creation of a fake account within its network.

This is because the network only acts as an intermediary and does not directly create the account. To put things in context, it would be like blaming a telecoms company for being subjected to an abusive or illegal phone call.

 

What Victims Can Do 

You will have re-course against social media providers through existing legal principles and statutes that apply to all of us. For example, if it can be shown that the platform was negligent in allowing the profile to be created, a claim could lie against it, or if there has been a breach of your privacy (GDPR) that has allowed the false site to be created. This however will be unusual.

If the victim knows who created the false platform there are avenues by which the perpetrator can be pursued both for damages and through the criminal courts.

If your identity has been used for a fake profile, the major platforms have arrangements in place for people to report this. This can be done either through a specific app or completing a designated form.

Anyone who has had a profile falsely created in their name can do this and therefore should report the incidents to the platform in question.

You can also notify the police, as it is a criminal offence, especially if the victim has been specifically targeted by an ex-boyfriend for example. If you are concerned that your details have been used to wrongly purchase goods, credit reference agencies have processes whereby you can report this to protect your credit rating.

 

With effect from 15th February 2015 EU Regulations on Consumer Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) allow consumers who bought our services online to submit their complaint via an online complaint portal.

We are required under the regulations to provide our clients the following information:-
  1. Link to the ODR platform - please follow the following link for further information (http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr).
  2. Our contact email address in case of a complaint under the ODR regulation – Andrea Coombes andrea.c@howellslegal.com