In 2019 there were over 3 million identity theft and fraud reports. With the rise of social media and other technology, more people are becoming victims of online impersonation.
Have you or someone you love recently discovered someone else stealing your photos to create a fake account or identity?
If someone is impersonating you, it’s essential to talk to your lawyer to determine what can be done. If you want to learn more about online impersonation laws and how a lawyer can help, keep reading!
Impersonating Other People Isn’t Necessarily Illegal
Depending on the circumstances and the state, it isn’t necessarily illegal to impersonate a person or a business. Think about how many people on the internet use satire, role-playing, and impersonation to get their points across.
Say, for example, you discover an Instagram account using photos of you and your family to create a persona. This act isn’t necessarily illegal or a criminal defense.
Usually, when something like this happens, the victim reaches out to the platform (in this case, Instagram). Then, that app or platform takes down the account in question.
But is that enough? Not usually. Victims of online impersonation want more security and closure than photos of themselves simply taken down.
Facebook doesn’t allow impersonations or fake usernames. Neither does Twitter, except for commentary, fan accounts, and parody. The consequence, though, isn’t necessarily legal.
Rather, they’ll either suspend or delete the account and take it down. Online impersonation can become illegal quickly, though. It all depends on the circumstances and the state.
Different Types of Online Impersonation
There are 4 different broad categories of impersonating other people, all of which can become illegal.
Defamation refers to when an individual uses the impersonation technique to spread malicious and false statements about the person they’re pretending to be.
Harassment applies to situations when the person impersonating you is trying to threaten or harm you.
A false light impersonation is a little more complicated. It equates to presenting truthful information about someone but in a way that skews the context. The purpose is to be both misleading and harmful.
A professional impersonation occurs when an individual impersonates a public servant. They then act in that professional capacity. For example, that person could pretend to be a doctor or a detective.
Whether it’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana or somewhere else in the United States, using impersonation to get information out of a victim is illegal.
What Should You Do if You’re Being Impersonated?
Whether you believe the impersonation of you is legal or not, the best thing to do right off the bat is to start documenting everything. By documenting, you’ll give yourself the broadcast protection. It can protect you under the law and also in terms of pressing online impersonation charges.
Here are some ways to document everything that’s going on:
- Take screenshots of any impersonation activities
- Record URLs and profiles of any impersonators
- If you know who the impersonator is, gather up any present or previous correspondence between you
- Make notes of any events that may have led to the situation
If you want to avoid online impersonation in the first place, you might want to remove any photos of you, friends, and family from your accounts. You could keep your accounts but avoid posting clear and full photos of you and your family.
If you’re being impersonated in Baton Rouge, you might also consider temporarily deleting or hiding your accounts, or at the very least, making them all private.
Don’t Ignore Any Danger
If you’re facing harassment, defamation, threats, or any other type of dangerous content, don’t hesitate to contact the police and tell a lawyer. If you contact a lawyer, make sure they’re specialized at handling defamation or online impersonation cases.
Talking to a lawyer and going to the police will help you document the process, too.
While most people who impersonate are only doing so because they’re bored, for fun, or to generate followers, these situations should always be taken seriously as they can become dangerous quickly.
It’s easy to think the worst when you’ve been violated through impersonation online. However, in the same way that we’d recommend staying calm and calculated in the face of potential danger, we’d also advise not to jump to the worst conclusion immediately.
They may be impersonating you for no reason against you as a person. More often than not, posting on your accounts that someone is impersonating you and you’ve contacted the police is enough to scare them into deleting those accounts.
You could also make clear that the police are running an IP tracer on those impersonation accounts to figure out who they are and where they’re posting from. Before you make any moves, give your lawyer a call to discuss your particular situation and your options.
There are plenty of options for lawyers to use in proving that the way you’ve been impersonated is illegal. Pressing charges could help alleviate any stress or fear and ensure that those impersonating you never do it again.
There Are Different Levels of Online Impersonation
While online impersonation is an invasive act, it can be either completely harmless or extremely dangerous to the individual being mimicked. The first thing you should do is document and gather up any evidence related to the impersonation.
If you feel in danger at all, don’t hesitate to contact the police. Call your lawyer and discuss your options, ready to present all the information, documentation, screenshots, and conversations you’ve had with the impersonator.
Make sure you hire a Louisiana lawyer with experience handling online impersonation cases and ask what you should or shouldn’t do to help or hinder your case.
Are you ready for peace of mind knowing someone is on your side getting to the bottom of your impersonator? Contact us to set up a free consultation and with any questions you have!