Online impersonation can tarnish a business’s reputation and mislead its clients, we understand it’s really stressful and it’s hard to know where to go. If your business is currently suffering from this issue please give us a call and we’d be more than happy to have a chat with you about the steps you can take, but we don’t want to dangle carrots, often these websites are deliberately set up in political jurisdictions where the perpetrators know you will struggle to act.
This article provides guidance on identifying imposters, steps to prevent future impersonation, and legal measures to consider when confronting such threats.
1. Identifying Online Impersonation: Ensure you’re aware of the official digital touchpoints (website, social media, etc.) of your business. Occasionally, third parties might set up fraudulent websites or social media accounts that appear eerily similar to yours to deceive your customers or tarnish your reputation.
Once you have identified the fraudulent avenues being used you can start to gather information about where these websites are registered and hosted. For instance, we can register auroratechsupport.co.uk in one country but we could host the actual website content the other side of the world. So you could have the website content removed from one server but then it could be moved to another, this can be a game of cat and mouse depending on how determined the perpetrators are, unfortunately, all you can really do is be such a pest they move on to another target.
2. Finding where a domain name (e.g. acme.com) is registered and hosted:
You need to use a “Who Is” service, a nice simple one to use is who.is this will tell you where the domain name was registered and where the site is hosted.
As you can see from the above image auroratechsupport.co.uk was registered by Enom and is then forwarded to Dreamhost. This is entirely normal and not necessarily an attempt to obfuscate the location of a website.
3. Reaching out to the “host” to have the site removed:
Once you have the name servers you need to do a little digging to find the host, sometimes it won’t be obvious and may be something generic like ns.dns-hoster.com and you’ll need to do some detective work to find the actual company behind the site.
Once you have the name of the host, you need to reach out to them to have them remove the site, as previously mentioned they may be in a political jurisdiction that cares little for your requests so at this point you may need to seek legal advise.
4. How to Prevent Future Impersonations:
- Regular Monitoring: Regularly scour the web for domain names, social media accounts, or any digital assets suspiciously similar to yours.
- Domain Protection: Consider purchasing domain variations related to your business to deter potential imposters.
- SSL Certificate: Secure your website with an SSL certificate. This not only ensures data protection but also verifies the authenticity of your site to visitors.
- Educate Your Audience: Consistently remind your clients and partners about the official channels through which they can reach you.
5. Legal Steps to Consider when Facing Impersonation:
- Cease and Desist Letter: If you discover an imposter, consider sending them a legal notice, demanding they shut down their fraudulent operation.
- Contact the Hosting Provider: Often, web hosting companies will take action if they’re informed about fraudulent activities being conducted on a domain they host.
- Trademark Protection: Trademarking your business name provides legal protection against unauthorized use. Ensure your business name and logo, if applicable, are trademarked.
- Seek Legal Counsel: Engage with a legal expert to guide you on the most appropriate actions tailored to your situation.
Conclusion: Online impersonation poses real risks for businesses in our digital age. Staying informed, vigilant, and proactive can ensure that your business remains protected against these threats. If ever in doubt about the authenticity of any communication associated with your business, always validate it through your official channels.