Why are people hacking my social media accounts? How do I stop it?

Take safety precautions when shopping online this holiday season.

Take safety precautions when shopping online this holiday season.

ASHEVILLE – Today’s burning question involves addressing and preventing cybercriminal activity and holiday scams. Have a question for Answer Man or Answer Woman? Email Executive Editor Karen Chávez at [email protected] and your question could appear in an upcoming column.

Question: “I was born BC, before computers. While I have developed reasonable competency my skill set is far from what it is for the younger generation. Many of my friends including myself have individuals impersonating us and trying to get individuals to friend them using our names. How does that kind of hacking occur and other than being smart enough not to respond what can you do to stop it? Is there any way the hacker can be identified?”

Answer: Social media is all fun and games until someone makes a duplicate social media account impersonating you and sends a new request to connect to everyone on your friend list.

It’s happened to the best of us ― no matter the age or computer literacy level ― but it makes it no less frustrating or violating.

This question took me down a rabbit hole of information as to the many ways cybercriminals take advantage of and scam Internet users.

It goes well beyond social media.

And since we’re in the high-activity season of online scams, online holiday shopping safety tips are included, as well.

More:Answer Woman: What makes a bad gift? What are the do’s & don’ts of holiday shopping?

Social media impersonation

Cybercrime Support Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports individuals and small businesses affected by cybercrimes, cites several reasons why a cybercriminal creates accounts impersonating social media users including to connect to the user’s friends to convince them to send money; to steal the user’s personal and sensitive information like where they live and work bank accounts and Social Security numbers; to gain access to the user’s account to post fake content and drive traffic to another account; and to exploit the user by posting inappropriate images or videos or prompting followers to send money.

Further acts of fraud, financial and personal…