Blagging is a slang term for getting someone else’s personal information without his/her consent. Here’s an example: A blagger obtains a copy of your name and picture from Facebook then uses those to create an account. The blagger can then pose as you and trick your contacts into, say, donating to a fake cause but keep the money for himself/herself. Another scenario would be getting your bank account details and withdrawing your money using that stolen information.

In cybersecurity, blagging would fall under the umbrella of social engineering. In that case, blagging would be akin to other forms of social engineering like phishing where cybercriminals get your online account credentials in ingenious ways. In effect, the blagger steals your identity and more.

Other interesting terms…

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Since blagging involves obtaining someone’s information without his/her permission or knowledge, it is considered a crime.

What Is the Blagging Process Like?

To understand the threat, let’s take a look at a concrete example.

Let’s say you recently got a Facebook friend request from a cousin saying she changed accounts. You think nothing of it and accept the request. A day after, you get a Facebook Messenger message from her asking you for a huge favor. She’s in big trouble financially and needs your help. Since her profile has your cousin’s name and picture, eventually you decide to send her the money. A week passes by and you see that cousin who borrowed money from you post that someone created a fake Facebook account with her details and has been scamming her contacts. That’s your money down the drain because your cousin has just been blagged.

Apart from social media, blagging can also happen via email or phone. And anyone can become a victim. Someone who knows you, for instance, can pretend he/she’s you on email or phone and ask people for favors.

What Is It You Can Do to Avoid Becoming a Blagging Victim?

There’s actually only one thing you can do to avoid being a blagging victim and that’s by not revealing too much or any personal stuff at all anywhere, whether offline (e.g., in phone or face-to-face conversations) or online (e.g., on social media or websites). Anything you reveal, your name, pictures, contacts’ names and details, account credentials, and a whole lot more can be used against you.

And if one of your contacts have been victimized by a blagger who’s now using his/her profile to scam people left and right, you can avoid falling for the ruse by contacting that person through some other way first before granting the favor, especially if it involves a huge sum of money. If you truly are friends with or related to that person, you’ll have some other way of communicating with him/her. Calling him/her without warning and verifying his/her supposed message should do the trick. If you have no way to contact him/her another way could mean he/she shouldn’t really be asking for your help, doesn’t it?

The trick is to not believe everything you see and hear without verification. These days when a cyber attack occurs every 39 seconds, you can’t really be that trusting.

Unlike most digital threats, blagging can’t be solved by installing a cybersecurity solution. It can’t be stopped by even the best anti-malware or by using a firewall or any other advanced tool. The only way to protect yourself against it is by thinking before acting. Always check if the person you’re talking to on the phone or online is really who he/she claims to be. Even if he/she says he/she is a representative of your company or bank, don’t just hand out your personal information. Ask for some form of verification at the very least.

And when you’re asked “What is blagging?” remember that it’s very different from blogging.