ITRC Solution 20
Internet Account Takeover -  Email Accounts and Social Networking Sites

This fact sheet covers the following information:

It can be very unnerving to realize that your email account/social networking site/twitter account has been accessed by somebody else or worse, that it has been completely taken over. It can also be scary to find that somebody has created an email account or an internet profile on a social networking site that is made to look like you.

One thing you must understand if this happens to you is that this is not, by law, considered identity theft. Identity theft is when somebody uses your personal and unique information in order to acquire lines of credit or to avoid criminal prosecution. Depending on what the intruder uses, the email account/social networking account for it could potentially be considered false impersonation which is not the same thing as identity theft.


Email Accounts

Account Takeovers

Fraudulent Account Established:

Social Networking Site

Account Take Over:

Fraudulent Account Established

Twitter and Similar Sites:

Account Take Over

Fraudulent Account Established

I have one of those free email accounts and there is no phone number to speak to an administrator. What should I do?

Unfortunately with free accounts there is almost no way of speaking with a live person when you attempt to notify the administrator. Most of these sites do have an email address or an online report that you can fill out, but the chances of speaking to a live person are slim. Email service providers tend to only extend customer service phone numbers to those customers that are paying for their services.

Could This Lead to Identity Theft?

Yes, depending on what information you have stored in your email account or networking account and what online companies you were doing regular business with.

Email Accounts:

Social Networking:

What Can I Do to Protect Myself?

Email Safety:

Social Networking:

General Safety:


This solution sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..