Yes, it’s possible to find social media info based on an email address. But how does it work, and why should you do it?
An email address is a lot like your online passport. If you’ve had to change yours recently, you’ll know how painful it can be to re-register to all your favourite online services. It’s no wonder half of the Internet users have not updated theirs for close to a decade.
And this is the key point: an email address is linked to several, if not dozens of online accounts — including, of course, social media.
Can You Find Social Media Accounts By Email Address?
Yes, it’s possible to find social media information based on an email address only. The main note, however, is that it’s easier to find social media info – not necessarily the account itself. That means a first and last name, and in some cases a profile picture. It’s a process known as social media analysis, often offered with a reverse email lookup tool.
How Does it Work?
Users of social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, sometimes make some of their data public. This is either on purpose (to be easy to reach), or accidentally (by not checking the permissions settings). Either ways, it is called social data, and anyone can access it when it’s publicly available.
Tools can, therefore, aggregate that social data and filter through it. You may find data such as:
- Full name
- Avatar picture
- Registration details
Is Social Media Lookup Legal?
Yes, as long as the data you seek is in public, open source databases. This is particularly important if you are in Europe and need to remain compliant with the GDPR. Our solution, for instance, is fully GDPR compliant.
Limitations of Working with Social Data
Social data can be too old to be useful, lacking 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 and fraudulent accounts.
With fraudsters, this is especially challenging, as they will often try to create accounts based on a real person’s stolen data. These synthetic IDs, made of real data but not created by real people, need to be filtered out for social media profiling to be efficient.
As we’ll see below, there is a high success rate of 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.
When no social media data exists, we can assume that the customer is riskier. Alternatively, we can use social media to reveal a case of ID theft, if the social media data doesn’t match anything else from the alleged user.
Use Cases in the Fraud Industry
At SEON, we use social media profiling as part of our Email 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 onboarding stage.
It also has the advantage of working with very few data points, which means a better user experience for legitimate customers.
You can integrate the Email API directly into your online platform, or use our Intelligence 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 social media. Moreover, any email addresses created simply for fraudulent purposes will automatically be filtered out, which already improves security for the least sophisticated attacks.
Just checking if a social media account is connected can help you flag fraudsters. In fact, according to our own data, 76% of online loan customers who didn’t have social media data would not pay them back.
The immediate benefit is in calculating your risk score based on social media presence. If the risk is high, you can add more security steps. If the risk is low, you can safely onboard new users.
Once you have validated the person’s social media profile accounts, you can manually look for more information, for instance using their profile name and by browsing through their public pictures.
Catching Fraudsters Red-Handed With Social Data
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 Intelligence, both for onboarding and for debt collection.
A renowned online loan company, they found that social media profiling is a great advantage when questioning customers, to know if they’re dealing with the right person, or a fraudster who hasn’t done their research.
Finally, manually accessing social data can be the ideal way to decline 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 and Social Media 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.
To see how SEON can help you find social data based on an email address only, please see our Intelligence or Sense fraud protection tools.
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Bence is the co-founder and COO of SEON whose vision is to create a safer online environment for merchants in high risk verticals.