A social media influencer puts in lots of hard work and dedication to build a following around a specific niche and establish themselves as an authority in their area of expertise.
And if you’re an influencer, you know you can impact other people’s lives and decisions based on your knowledge, authority, and relationships.
But being an influencer and in the public eye can also expose you to certain inherent risks. Read on to learn how influencers can be exposed to bad actors and, most importantly, how to circumvent some risks.
Most Common Dangers
Every job comes with certain occupational hazards. Identity theft and stalking are common risks if you’re an influencer or considering becoming one.
Unfortunately, social media influencers are vulnerable to identity theft by sheer means of notoriety.
- Nefarious characters often use spyware to target influencers and public figures in general. They mine for data and sell the stolen info to external parties looking to cash in.
They may sell your information on the dark web, steal money, or open bank accounts and credit cards in your name, and at the same time, often infiltrate your computer and mobile devices with spam, pop-ups, keyboard trackers, and viruses.
Stalking is particularly scary and, unfortunately, too common.
It often starts with small acts that may seem harmless but too often escalate and get dangerous.
If you experience someone doing any of the following, you may be dealing with a stalker:
- Follows you and shows up wherever you are.
- Repeatedly calls you and may even hang up.
- Damages your property, including your car or home.
- Sends unwanted letters, texts, gifts, or emails.
- Drives by or parks near your school, home, or workplace.
- Monitors your computer use or phone calls.
- Threatens to hurt you or your loved ones.
- Uses technology like GPS systems and hidden cameras to track your movements.
6 Safety Tips for Influencers
Whether you’re an influencer or just looking to stay safe on the internet, here are some helpful tips:
1) Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
- When you access public Wi-Fi, you put yourself at risk of coming in contact with a cybercriminal who can collect your information via hotspot.
- One of the most common cyber threats when using public Wi-Fi is the man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack. These attacks involve cybercriminals creating malicious networks or manipulating networks to intercept your online data.
- It’s best to avoid public networks and use your own hotspot whenever possible.
2) Be Careful with the Backgrounds of Your Photos/Videos
- Even though posting about your daily life can be fun, when possible, you should avoid giving away your location or sharing anything too personal.
- Whatever’s in the background of a picture, video, or livestream can be used to gather information about you, so always be vigilant about not including sensitive information such as specific people or locations.
- You should avoid posting anything that reveals your location in real time so people can’t track you.
3) Change Passwords Frequently
- Changing passwords frequently is best, especially if you’ve used a public network or been informed of unauthorized access to any of your accounts.
- Use long, complex, random passwords or rely on a password manager to generate a primary password.
- Avoid reusing passwords, and when possible, enable two-factor authentication.
4) Use a Business Email and Phone Number
A business email and phone number are must-haves. They not only enhance your security by separating your business info from your personal information but, as a bonus, also help you appear more professional and legitimate.
5) Use a Virtual Mailbox
As an influencer, you receive tons of mail and packages from vendors and companies wanting to collaborate.
- A virtual mailbox keeps you safe by setting you up with a virtual mailing address, so you don’t have to reveal your personal information to the public.
- It also enhances your professional image, adds credibility to your brand, and encourages more legitimate companies to contact you.
- If you’re a travel influencer, a virtual mailbox is especially useful for accessing your mail anywhere in the world. Your mail and packages will be delivered to a staffed location, where they will be stored securely if you can’t pick them up yet. You can also take action by making requests (open & scan, forward, shred, or recycle) via the app.
6) Report Trolls and Be Mindful of Suspicious Followers
Dealing with trolls is tricky. Take action if they’re making legitimate or veiled threats.
If needed, record their communications and report them, especially if they do any of the following:
- Send you unsolicited messages or excessively comment on posts.
- Frequently or inappropriately tag you in posts.
- Impersonate you or people you know.
- Attempt to hack your devices and accounts.
Safe and Sound in the Digital Playground
By keeping your eyes open and guard up, you can have fun and reap the rewards that come with the influence you’ve worked hard to build.
All professions come with some risks. By simply staying aware and proactive, you can minimize those risks and fully enjoy the fruits of your labor while continuing to share abundantly and creatively with your tribe.
May your influence continue to thrive…