You may have been considering legal actions due to a recent internet scam. Or, you may be wondering what other options you may have for dealing with the issue outside of the legal sphere. Naturally, legal recourse may provide financial or equitable remedies (e.g., temporary restraining orders) but usually there are limits. For example, damages may continue unless action is taken to stymie the leak or prompting the need for another lawsuit to remedy the new situation. So, what are the risks of an internet scam? What can someone do to prevent those risks? When should someone take the step to prevent additional harm?
What can possibly go wrong?
Internet scams can lead to situations like identity theft, credit card fraud, or other financial crimes, all using information that the individual may or may not have given the scammer. Depending on the scammer’s motive, this information may be used for embarrassment of the target or for financial gain.
However, in the more personally threatening level, if a person is doxed or otherwise exposed online, then there is the chance they may fall victim to a more dangerous situation which is known as “swatting.” Swatting involves reporting a false incident to the police, prompting a highly aggressive encounter with law enforcement. This is often done “for the lulz” at the expense of an influencer. This is usually as the influencer may be streaming online at the time, resulting in a recorded incident and possible severe injuries to the victim.
How can you stop the damage from getting worse?
First, determine the source of the digital breach. In the case of catfishing, this may occur through a reverse image search, or by simply reviewing the privacy settings on social media websites. However, it should be known that some online services will allow individuals to look up information based on simple information, even allowing information on a personal address. Images can also lead to a breach as they may include geographic metadata.
Second, determine the risks. If you believe financial damages are more likely, then consider implementing a credit freeze or fraud alert. Credit freezes create an additional layer of security in obtaining new lines of credit effectively locking them down. Fraud alerts work similarly, although they require an individual contacting you before offering credit.
However, if you make a living from a large social media presence and believe swatting is an imminent threat, then contact your local law enforcement agency. In those cases, many police departments are aware of the issue, and you may request from them to call you in the event of a violent incident report. However, this may not be guaranteed due to policies within the specific department. If swatting does occur, then be sure to comply with police orders and do not resist.
Third, determine the damages. If damages have occurred, then you may want to consider legal action. So, you should find an attorney, and begin the legal process.
At our law firm, we assist clients with legal issues related to internet and technology. Please contact us to set up an initial consultation.