There are a lot of different kinds of identity theft. One common form is a social media hack, which involves a hacker taking over control of your social media accounts. Compared to some of the other ways an identity thief can wreak havoc with your personally identifiable information, it might not seem like a big deal. However, as a number of high-profile individuals and businesses have discovered, it actually is.

A social media hack can allow the thief to post any kind of messages that appear to come from you. They may be offensive in nature, sharing sensitive or untrue personal details and more. This can have repercussions with your employer, family and friends.

Beyond just damaging your reputation, access to your social media accounts can also lead to access to other accounts. Any website or app in which you used your Facebook, Twitter or Google connection to sign up and login can potentially be taken over once someone has control of your social media account.

A social media hack is a great way to spread malware and snare other victims. If you were to suddenly post a link on your Facebook page to something that promises to be interesting or fun, how many of your followers would click it? If you sent out private messages on these platforms to your friends and family members, how many of them would respond? All the hacker has to do is pretend to be you when they post or send these harmful messages.

There are a variety of ways criminals get into accounts, and even more ways that experts have not discovered yet. When Twitter’s own CEO Jack Dorsey had his account hacked, it happened through porting his phone number to a different cell phone. Either by hacking the cellular provider or getting an employee at the cellular company to do it, the hackers gained access to Dorsey’s phone and his logins.

However, when the NFL and numerous pro football teams had their Twitter and Instagram accounts taken over by hackers, the criminals broke in through a third-party platform. By compromising the email account for an employee of the third-party platform, hackers were able to gain access to these major accounts via a tool that measures engagement. Since all of the affected teams within the organization use the same tool to keep up with the data on their tweets and posts, breaking in was very useful.

No one is immune from a social media hack, even if you are not a celebrity or a major organization. It is important to protect yourself with strong, unique passwords, multi-factor authentication tools if you can use them and not leaving your social media apps logged in on your phone unless you have to. Also, changing your passwords frequently is a good idea, just in case hackers manage to grab outdated login information. Do what you can to keep yourself safe from hackers who are looking to land you on the wrong side of a social media hack.

 Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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