Is your good name being abused online?

Have you tried to google yourself recently? Maybe you should. More and more people have their name abused on the internet. Generally, it is celebrities, but as the competition has increased, it has trickled down to semi-celebrities and people well known in local communities who can see their names abused. Particularly if they have been mentioned in the media.

Those techniques have grown very fast recently, as the people behind the schemes can see who is being searched for on Google. This allows them to use those names in articles on fraudulent web sites. In the past, this technique was used sporadically, but today it is used very systematically as more and more have discovered it is an easy way to generate traffic.

Often the use of semi-famous people is ideal as the competition on Google is very low for those names, and there will still be a lot of searches for those names. Often it is used in a context that increases the chances that it is used in searches like the name is used together with porn or dating.

A lot of people never discover the misuse of their name as they never really Google themselves, so it is a very safe bet to use this strategy. We, therefore, recommend that you regularly Google yourself to keep an eye on what goes on.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to do something about it if your name is misused. You have a few options, but it will take time and effort to get the false search results to go away.

If the site is fraudulent or criminal in some way, you can go to USA.gov Online Security and Safety page that has links to several government authorities you can report it to. In the UK you can report it to Action Fraud. In other countries, the police will have a special cyber crime department.

Apart from reporting the misuse to the authorities of your country, you can also report the abuse to Google. Google has a phishing page report function you can use, and you can also find other options here.

With the above options, you have to wait for others to take action, but you might be able to do something yourself. A technique in reputation management is to bury negative content in the search results. The idea is that if it is pushed away to pages 2, 3, or 10 in the search results, nobody will see it. A way to get multiple listings of your name in the top search results is to join social media, forums, and so on with your name. Their profile pages will often get a very high ranking and push the fraudulent pages further down.

Yes, it is distressing to see your name be abused or misused, and even though the options are limited, you still have some options, and hopefully, in the future, Google will be much better at keeping legitimate content separated from illicit content.

Also, always keep yourself safe on the Internet by using a good VPN-connection and a great password manager and strong passwords.

 

 

 

 

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Has a master in Business Administration and has worked with IT for the last 30 years.
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