In February this year, my Credit Card details were stolen. I received a phone call from Citibank identifying a fraudulent transaction (kudos to them!). I confirmed this, the card was cancelled and replaced, and the money re-credited. I also found another transaction on there at about the same time, where someone had purchased something from a Russian domain registrar. I was surprised at the time about how much you could spend at the registrar, but I filled out the paperwork for Citibank, had the money re-credited immediately, and all was right with the world. Or so I thought.
So it turns out that my credit card details were used to register a lot of websites. These websites were used as some kind of presumably honeypot scams via email spam, directing them to dodgy URLs offering free upgrades to Skype and Adobe products. How do I know this? My name is rather rare (I suspect unique world-wide), so when I Google searched my name a little while ago, rather than seeing a list of interesting and good deeds I may have done, I saw websites like “stupid scammers” come up. Now I’m very much in favour of these sites remaining up, because I would like people to be generally aware of such scams and be able to easily identify them as such. What adds insult to injury for me is that not only did the scammers use my stolen credit card to pay for the domain name registration, they also used my name as the technical contact, administrative contact and company name. This means that when people went to investigate the scam sites using whois, my name came up.
Why do I care?
At the moment I am looking for work, and so my Google search profile is very important to me. I would like the first impressions to be good. So when I started checking in to my current profile and found my good name to be associated with these scams above any other things that I’ve done, I was less than impressed. Secondly, as an IT professional, these scams are particularly badly done and make me look bad in my own field of broader expertise.
How do I know that every time I apply for a job, someoneÂ isn’t Google searching my name and ruling me out just-in-case? I want to reclaim my name.
What am I doing about it?
I”ll be trying quite a few options, and I’m also soliciting other ideas from the internet at large (that includes you!) I do not expect this to be a fast process, but something I want to see how far I can get; with the intent of sharing my experiences and what to do if the same thing happens to you. I will also look at issues around Bing and sites like Pipl, but luckily the stupid scammer stuff is buried much deeper on those.