Wondering, as a business, how much an email address can reveal about its owner?
Type an email address into the field below and see what SEON’s search of 90+ social and web platforms will discover.
Then, read on to find out how this works and how it can keep companies safer and better informed.
How to Find Social Media from Just an Email Address
Users of social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, as well as online services such as Github, Netflix and Airbnb, sometimes make some of their data public. In fact, that they have an account with one or more of these constitutes information in itself.
Either way, this is called social data, and anyone can access it, as it is open source intelligence (OSINT).
From there, there are tools & OSINT techniques such as the one in our introduction which can aggregate that social data and filter through it. From it, you can discover more information, such as the email owner’s:
- full name
- avatar picture
- registration details
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How to Use SEON’s Social Media Lookup to Fight Fraud
At SEON, we use social media profiling as part of our email verification software and phone analysis APIs. The former, for instance, performs a reverse email check so you can enrich data based on an email address only. It’s highly efficient because it flags fraudsters before they can even register to your website, at the digital onboarding stage.
It also has the advantage of working with very few primary data points, which means a better, more streamlined user experience for legitimate customers.
You can integrate the Email API directly into your online platform to get this wealth of data or use the Chrome plugin to manually check email addresses.
SEON will look for registration data, and let you know if the person used the same email address on 90+ online platforms and social media. Simply put, this means you know how likely they are to be trustworthy – because a legitimate customer has a degree of web and social media presence, compared to a fraudster-generated email address.
Moreover, any email addresses created for fraudulent purposes will automatically be filtered out, instantly catching the less sophisticated attacks.
To try this out, you can sign up for a free trial of SEON’s product and head to the Manual Review page.
Actually, just checking whether a social media account is present at all can help you flag fraudsters. In fact, 76% of online loan customers who don’t have social media data don’t pay back the loan, while a “good” applicant, who gets approved, has 5.45 social media accounts on average, compared to fraudsters’ emails averaging at 1.72, per SEON’s digital footprint analysis findings for 2022.
The immediate benefit is in calculating a risk score for this customer based on their social media presence and overall digital footprint. If the risk is high, you can take more precautions, vetting them through more security steps before they can be trusted. If the risk is low, you can safely onboard them as a new user.
Once you have validated the person’s social media profile accounts, you can manually look for more information – for instance by using their profile name and by browsing through their public pictures.
Is Social Media Lookup Legal?
Yes, as long as the data you source is in public, open databases.
This is particularly important if you are in Europe and need to remain compliant with the GDPR. SEON’s solution, for instance, is fully GDPR compliant, and there is also an API to help your company purge data when required: the Erase API.
Limitations of Working with Social Data
There are some caveats to keep in mind: Social data can be too old to be useful, lack crucial info, or simply fake. Considering one in four people have a fake social media profile, it’s easy to see how the datasets can be flawed – and that’s before you even take into consideration the problem of bots, sockpuppets, and fraudulent accounts.
With fraudsters, this is especially challenging, as they will often try to create social media accounts based on a real person’s stolen data. For instance, instances of synthetic identity fraud, where they create IDs made of real data but not belonging to real people, need to be filtered out for social media profiling to be efficient.
However, there is a high success rate for fraud detection using social data. While it’s easy to create email addresses with names that match a stolen credit card, it takes more work to do it for social media profiles and web platforms.
What’s more, it doesn’t scale: A determined fraudster could, in theory, painstakingly recreate the social presence of a legitimate individual but can’t do so for dozens or hundreds of email addersses.
When no social media data exists, we can assume that the customer is higher risk. Then it’s time for other sources of fraud prevention data to be taken into account, such as device fingerprinting findings and velocity checks.
We can also use social media to reveal cases of ID theft, if the social media data doesn’t match anything else from the alleged user.
Case Study: Catching Fraudsters Red-Handed
Aside from preventing fraudsters from entering your business, you can also use social media analysis to catch them in the act of lying to you.
This is precisely how one of our clients uses SEON, both for onboarding and for debt collection.
This renowned online loan company found that social media profiling is a great advantage when questioning customers, letting them know if they’re dealing with the right person or a fraudster who hasn’t done their research.
Finally, manually accessing social data can provide justification for declining chargeback requests. Believe it or not, some fraudsters will show off their purchases on social media, which can be used as proof in a chargeback dispute.
Email Address Lookup & Social Data: A Winning Combo
Whether you need to manually check one person’s account, or automate a data enrichment process, email profiling combined with social media analysis is a powerful tool for businesses.
You can get to know a lot more about your users, remove doubts when dealing with little data, and even legally protect yourself against chargebacks and defaulting customers.
Social media lookup tools are a useful source of a wealth of information. Find best tools and methods here.
Yes. Through the use of OSINT tools, you can uncover a range of social media accounts via one single email address submitted by a user/customer. This can be used as an extra form of verification.
Certain tools are free. However, you will often find these have limited capabilities. Find out more about what tools are available on the market, both free and paid, in our reverse email lookup tool article.
This varies depending on the tool that you’re using. For example, SEON’s reverse social media lookup tool shows data from over 90 platforms and apps.
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Bence Jendruszák is the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of SEON. Thanks to his leadership, the company received the biggest Series A in Hungarian history in 2021. Bence is passionate about cybersecurity and its overlap with business success. You can find him leading webinars with industry leaders on topics such as iGaming fraud, identity proofing or machine learning (when he’s not brewing questionable coffee for his colleagues).
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