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I have recently switched my job and joined new company. But I seeing that my ex-employer is using fake accounts (mostly social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Xing and many others) with my name and other personal details.

What are some things I can do in this case?


I know it's them because I can see the company name in the profiles. They are using these profiles to send marketing messages.

I already informed them about this and they are still doing this. I also complained to LinkedIn a week ago but no luck. LinkedIn didn't even respond.

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    I would at least start by telling them you want them to stop, before getting a lawyer involved. – DJClayworth Apr 5 '16 at 14:21
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    Loosely related (off-site): my boss is using my email account to impersonate me – Lilienthal Apr 5 '16 at 19:06
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; the conversation about seeking legal help has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Apr 6 '16 at 20:57
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    Did these accounts exist while you were an employee? Or were they created after? – corsiKa Apr 6 '16 at 22:14
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    @RahulBasu - Yes, but that doesn't tell us where the OP is. There are plenty of Indian people in the US, Europe... – BSMP Apr 7 '16 at 14:33
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I would take this very seriously. This can be a prelude to identity theft with financial fraud. Or your ex-employer might be planning to harm your reputation. I would:

Note: If you dealt with clients while working for this employer, it may be that the employer doesn't want to admit to those clients that you're gone. But whatever the reason, they need to stop.

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This is good grounds to sue the hell out of your ex-employer for what appears to be identity theft or some other kind of fraudulent behavior (depending on the specifics of the case). Here are your steps:

  1. Consult a lawyer for what your best course of action is, and whether a lawsuit would be appropriate.

  2. Collect evidence of your ex-employer's wrongdoing. Document as much as possible -- once they realize that you're onto them, they will attempt to erase their trail.

  3. Damage control: contact the websites involved to shut down the impersonating profiles. Issue a credit freeze as suggested by another commenter. Basically, make it as difficult as possible for them to keep conducting identity theft.

  4. Follow through with the legal action suggested by your lawyer (cease & desist, sue, etc.).

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer.

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    Why do you think that lawyering up is the first thing to be done rather than, for example, asking the ex-employer to stop? – David Richerby Apr 6 '16 at 5:55
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    @DavidRicherby I imagine it's because common sense will tell you that using someone's name, likeness and details for marketing purposes is not okay unless they expressly gave you permission to do so. This is not a case of "Oops, I accidentally used your photo instead of the right one", the OP's full details have been used. The employer or at the very least some of the people there are fully aware of what they are doing. – Cronax Apr 6 '16 at 6:33
  • @Cronax Even a full account with the wrong details could, possibly, maybe be excused if they had layers of bureaucracy and sent the info off to someone else to make the account, but sent the wrong details. Given that there's a roughly 0% chance of that, though, I concur. – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Apr 6 '16 at 18:18
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    @DavidRicherby (if this were me) ...because "making them stop" is a necessary but insufficient requirement. They will stop impersonating me and defrauding the market, but that does nothing to compensate me for their identity theft. A judge does that; ergo, lawyer. – K. Alan Bates Apr 6 '16 at 21:28
  • @K.AlanBates It seems highly unlikely that you would be able to receive compensation for someone using your name and photo on a social media account unless you could show this is actively hurting you in some way (losing business, being accused of wrongdoing as a result), but then, I wouldn't think you could get damages for spilling your McDonald's coffee on yourself, either. So what do I know. – jpmc26 Apr 7 '16 at 4:30
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Dear [former employer]

It has come to my attention that you are continuing to use my name and/or likeness to market your products/services even after I left your company, despite my recent requests that you discontinue doing so.

Please either 1) change the account details removing my name, image, and any other personally identifying information from these accounts or 2) turn the account information over to me.

I will assume that any accounts left with personally identifying information after [date 2 weeks from now] are going to be abandoned to me, and I will commence working with the services in order to obtain access to all accounts continuing to bear my name and/or likeness.

I appreciate your time and attention to this matter.

  • I have sent them mails regarding this but still there are many fake accounts with my details :( – Joomler Apr 6 '16 at 20:17
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    I don't think you understand the severity of the situation. This is identity theft. The email template you've written is essentially "please don't impersonate me :-(". That's not sufficient. The appropriate course of action is to use the legal system to hit back as hard as possible, immediately -- and if appropriate, to claim damages. – Newb Apr 7 '16 at 1:37
  • @rishiv3 Then take control of the accounts. They are using your name, they must be your accounts. Contact the organizations/companies that run the sites which have the accounts and start the process of regaining control of your accounts. – Adam Davis Apr 7 '16 at 18:40
  • @AdamDavis It does not follow that having someone's name and likeness on social media means those accounts have originated from the one having their identity used. If it didn't originate with OP, then there's nothing to regain. There is no "must be" here. They're fake accounts, created by the previous employer. – The Anathema Apr 8 '16 at 19:14
  • @TheAnathema That's not an incorrect perspective, but I'm suggesting that the person whose likeness is used could claim ownership of the accounts and take control of them that way. By suggesting this is the case to the thief attempting to run a business, you may push them into changing the accounts enough so that no claim of ownership could be made. It's one possible path through this mess, and one perspective, but by no means is it the only path or perspective. It's worthwhile consider and pursuing all paths rather than restricting themselves to one worldview. – Adam Davis Apr 8 '16 at 19:18
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If you're seriously concerned about Identity Theft (and I would be, since being your ex-employer they have all your information, especially social security number) there are other steps you can take before going to a lawyer.

Especially since many answers and comments here are advising talking to a lawyer, and since lawyers are very rarely free, it's worth noting that you can get help by going to local police or even the FBI (if you're in the USA). It may seem like overkill now, but you don't know what may have already been done online by "fake you."

The FBI advises on their Identity Theft pages like Protecting Your Identity:

Identity theft occurs when someone becomes you. What’s the motivation for this surreptitious subrogation? Of course in most cases, it’s financial gain, but perpetrators also use false identities to get a job, to get healthcare, or to commit a different crime.

But for any of that to happen, the crook first needs to know your personal information. Your name, home address, and birth date provide a good start and are readily available in many easily searchable public databases. Your social security number, which is a more difficult identifier to steal and is also the key to unlocking your credit, is so important to an identity thief that you must go out of our way to protect it.

And their "what to do" step 3 is contact local police. It should be free too, so paying by the hour like a lawyer would charge.

Since your ex-employer is already impersonating you online, it's not unreasonable to be worried that they might want to start buying things and having the bills sent to your house under your name.

They may have already broken some laws, or could get you in big trouble if they decide to harass people online. According to this article Analysis: California's Online Impersonation Law:

As of January 1, 2011, California's first online impersonation law – SB 1411 – goes into effect, making malicious digital impersonation a misdemeanor that comes with fines up to $1000 and/or up to a year in jail.

For a long time, online impersonation was mainly thought of as identity theft, or as something done occasionally by pathetic exes or total dicks, but it happened mostly when your credit got hijacked and you found yourself the proud owner of a $5K phone bill and a receipt for swampland in Florida. This past year saw a sharp spike in a much more personal kind of impersonation: when people abuse the anonymity of the Internet to cyber-harass individuals.

Another British lawyer mentions some other problems you could have, among defamation, fraud, some interesting "privacy" issues with online communications people think are yours:

What may be more sinister is when the impersonator starts to communicate with others. Those that communicate with a faker, and share personal information, may have very serious damages claims. In one such instance a client of mine was the victim of an impersonator. The faker swapped a number of intimate messages via social media with a young girl (believing that she was communicating with my client). The girl was devastated and would, if she had chosen to sue, have been entitled to significant damages for misuse of private information.

(You didn't say what country you're in, but in general there probably are similar laws in the USA, UK, Europe...)

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