Impersonating someone online can take many forms. In some cases, the impersonation may constitute a criminal offense, such as when one individual pretends to be another for financial gain. In other instances, the impersonation does not reach that level. Regardless of whether the impersonation is or is not a crime, the victim of the impersonation feels violated and vulnerable.
Depending on state law, the age of the victim can also be a factor in whether or not the incident is a crime. For example, in North Carolina, General Statute §14-458.1 Cyber-bullying states that it is a crime to build a fake profile, pose as a minor, follow a minor into a chat room, or post private information about a minor for the purpose of intimidating or tormenting a minor or the minor’s parent or guardian. The key factor in this statute is the age of the victim.
There are many ways to protect yourself and your data online. You should always be aware of what you post, the sites where it is posted, and who has access to the information. This applies not only to text and images but also to more sensitive data such as date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, passwords, bank and credit card numbers, or any other sensitive or private information.
Click here for one story from WRAL about how this type of online impersonation can affect an individual.
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