Posting, tweeting, and snapping are things many people do daily. Documenting your life on various platforms is fun and a great way to stay connected with friends and family. In today’s digital age, it’s become an integral part of our lives, allowing us to connect with friends, share experiences, and express ourselves.
However, what many people fail to realize is that their online presence can have unintended consequences, including making them vulnerable to scammers. Furthermore, the information shared on social media platforms can potentially harm their personal injury (PI) case.
Social Media: A Playground For Scammers
Social media platforms provide scammers with a goldmine of personal information, making it easier for them to carry out their deceitful activities. By meticulously analyzing your social media profiles, scammers can gather valuable details about your interests, lifestyle, and even your location. Armed with this information, they can create targeted scams tailored to deceive you and potentially gain access to your financial accounts or personal data.
For instance, by sharing your vacation plans on Facebook, you inadvertently announce to the world that your home will be vacant, making it an easy target for burglars. Similarly, showcasing luxurious purchases on Instagram might attract fraudsters who aim to trick you into revealing sensitive financial information.
Currently, there is a terrible scam going around where someone phones and tells you that a family member is in jail, and you need to send money for bail in order to get them out. This scam is usually quite sophisticated, and the scammer will know the area that your loved one is currently vacationing in. It is also possible for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to mimic video discussions from your posts that can be used to plead for help from others.
Your Social Media Posts Are Not Really Private
While you may have tried your best to fix your privacy settings, nothing posted online is 100% private. Collecting information is still relatively easy, especially if conversation threads are visible. This can include pictures posted, discussions with friends, and even as far as sometimes obtaining your banking information (the secret mecca for all cyber criminals).
The Impact On Your Personal Injury Case
Apart from the risks of falling victim to scams, social media can have adverse effects on your personal injury case. When you file a personal injury claim, insurance companies and defence lawyers are always looking for ways to minimize their liability. This is where your social media activity can come back to haunt you.
To defend various types of personal injury cases or commercial lawsuits, the other party’s legal team looks at personal posts, and pictures on your social media accounts while gathering evidence against you. They will scour your social media history and monitor your accounts for new posts that they can use to dispute or deny your claim or reduce your settlement amount. Just picture all the fact finding that goes on if a court order were to be obtained to also look at what you believed were your private emails.
Even innocent posts can be misinterpreted or taken out of context, potentially undermining your credibility and the strength of your case. For example, a photo showing you engaging in physical activities might be used to dispute the extent of your injuries or the impact they have on your daily life.
Furthermore, social media posts can contradict the statements made in your PI case. If you claim that your injuries prevent you from working, but your social media accounts showcase recent job-related activities or vacations, it can raise doubts about the legitimacy of your claim.
What Exactly Are Scammers, Defence Lawyers and Insurance Providers Looking For?
From a legal and very fair perspective, lawyers, insurers, and claims adjusters need to evaluate your claim to figure out if your injuries are legitimate, if you are credible, and whether your injuries resulted from their client’s negligent actions. If you are claiming significant injuries and there are photos of you partying, or hang-gliding while on vacation, you may have a lot of explaining to do. This is true of photos and comments on your social media that can work against you. Many a case has been destroyed by someone’s very own actions.
However, scammers have a different nefarious interest in you. They want to part you from your money and obtain every bit of leverage they can get.
So, what can you do? First, if you are on the Internet in any shape or form, you are an open book. It is not a crime to be on social media. However, if someone calls or emails you about something that is too good to be true, or the IRS, CRA, FBI, or anyone else needs your money immediately – jump to a really simple conclusion – it is a SCAM!
Protecting Yourself & Your Personal Injury Case
Given the potential risk, it is crucial to exercise caution when using social media, particularly during ongoing personal injury litigation. Here are some essential tips to protect yourself and your case:
1. Limit Your Online Presence
Consider adjusting your privacy settings to control who can see your posts, limiting access to friends and family. Be cautious about accepting friend requests from unfamiliar individuals.
2. Think Before You Post
Pause and carefully consider the content and context of your social media posts. Refrain from sharing sensitive details about your personal life, injuries, or legal proceedings. Even seemingly innocent posts can be misinterpreted.
3. Monitor Your Online Activity
Regularly review your social media profiles and remove any content that could potentially harm your case. Avoid posting anything that could contradict or undermine your claims.
4. Seek Legal Advice
Consult with your lawyer or attorney regarding your social media presence. They can provide guidance on how to navigate online platforms safely during your personal injury case.
While social media platforms offer countless benefits, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks they pose. Scammers can exploit personal information shared on social media, putting you at risk of financial loss and other detrimental consequences. Moreover, the content you post can be used against you during a personal injury case. By exercising caution and following the tips outlined above, you can help protect yourself from scams and preserve the strength of your legal claims. Remember, the digital world can be a double-edged sword, and your online presence should be approached with care.