Facebook profile impersonated digital minister

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran has urged people to report online impersonators to Cert NZ. Photo: File
Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran has urged people to report online impersonators to Cert NZ. Photo: File

Digital Media Minister Clare Curran has been caught up in some online drama involving the misuse of her identity and a fake Facebook page.

Curran is urging people to report any suspicious activity on their Facebook accounts to CERT NZ.

"The need for vigilance was brought home to me this week when a fake account surfaced using my identity," she said.

"I reported the issue and followed Cert NZ's advice, changed my Facebook password and upgraded my password protection."

Curran said it was "frightening to think someone is impersonating you online and Cert NZ is there to help people sort out issues and feel safe again online".

Each report helped to build a better understanding of the sorts of threats people faced online each day, Curran said.

"In order to further protect Facebook accounts, Cert NZ recommends people check if there have been any unexpected or suspicious logins," Curran said.

Another option to those who have been compromised is reporting fake profiles to Facebook. This is also easy to do via the Facebook interface.

Multifactor authentication of accounts is also a good way to ensure that your account isn't being accessed by anyone else. This feature sends a notification to your email address or mobile should your account be accessed by an unrecognised device.

Fake profiles are often used by scammers to glean information or financial gain from friends or family members of the actual person.

Fake Facebook profiles have been an ongoing problem for a number of years. As far back as 2016, the NZ Police and Netsafe warned that Kiwis were being deceived and often losing large sums of money.

In one high profile incident the former chief executive of Air New Zealand, Sir Ralph Norris, discovered three fake Facebook profiles using his name and it's not the first time that one of New Zealand's most renowned business leaders has experienced the fraudulent use of his profile.

It was discovered that a criminal using Norris' name on Facebook had successfully convinced at least two people to part with large sums of money.

"People are trading on my name in an attempt to make victims out of good people," Norris said at the time.

"I have never had a social media account and would implore people to verify who they are speaking to before they decide to part with their hard earned money."

Cert NZ's advice for avoiding identity theft (taken from Cert NZ website):

• Don't give out too much personal information, whether on social media or by email.
• Put privacy settings on your social media accounts and don't add too many personal details to your profile.
• Turn on multifactor authentication for your online accounts.
• Always update your operating system and your apps when new versions are available. You can set this up to happen automatically with Windows and a lot of other applications like Office.
• Choose unique passwords for your online accounts — don't use the same password for every account you have. Consider using a password manager like KeePass to manage them.
• Make sure that answers to your account recovery questions aren't easy to guess. Your answers don't need to be factual, just something that you can remember.
• Make sure your home wireless network is secure.
• Be cautious when connecting your computer to unsecure networks like free WiFi or internet cafés.
• Always check your bank statements.
• Get a regular credit report to check that no accounts have been opened in your name without your knowledge.

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