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It's unfortunate, but people can go out and create email accounts using what ever name they might want to.

Someone has created a Yahoo email account using my under-aged daughter's name. It appears to be an account from Indonesia. Emails with a link have been sent to some of her contacts and we're guessing either Pintrest or Facebook. How do we stop this? How is it legal to open an account in a minor's name?

In this excerpt from Answercast #58, I look at a case of impersonation online and the difficulties involved in tracing down the culprits.

Stopping fake accounts?

How do you stop this? Well, you don't.

The practical situation here is that there's really almost nothing you can do to stop this from happening. People can go out and create email accounts using whatever name they might want to. They might be trying to intentionally look like your daughter; they might just coincidentally have the same name.

I realize that, in this case. it's not that likely that it's a coincidence - but it is nonetheless a possibility that people can create email addresses using just about any email name and make it look like anybody they want to.

Legal issues

Is it legal?

You know, I honestly don't know.

Probably it's not legal, but the question is then how do you enforce that? The short answer is once again, pragmatically, you can't.

As you've noticed, it's coming from overseas. The fact is it may not be illegal in that country. I just don't know. Even if it is, you're asking for multiple law enforcement agencies to potentially get involved in something that boils down to a simple of case of impersonation.

Not to say that they have better things to do, but they definitely have a lot to do, and this is not one of the items that I would suspect would rank very highly on their list of priorities. So even if it is illegal, which I suspect it is, the chances, the pragmatic chances of it actually getting enforced and traced back to somebody are just not very realistic. It's just going to be too expensive for everybody involved to figure this out and track it down.

The best thing you can do is (to the extent that you can) ignore it. To the extent that you need to, let people know that this account is not your daughter; and basically keep an eye out and move on.

Article C5880 - October 3, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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