How to check if a photo is stolen

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If you’re posting your images online with any sort of regularity, they’re probably being stolen from time to time—it’s an unfortunate reality of the digital age. And so, photographer Anthony Morganti decided to create this video and share 3 basic ways to search for and find your stolen photos online.

Morganti doesn’t break new ground here, but his video offers a solid overview of some basic methods that will be especially useful if you’re a beginner who is starting to deal with image theft for the first time.

1. Google and Google Alerts

The first is the most simple, but probably still underused, way to find your photos online: Google yourself and your website. Better yet, set up a couple of Google alerts, and Google will email you every time someone mentions you.

This is a great way to keep track of mentions and link-backs online, but it’s also a good way to find the places where people are “borrowing” your images with credit, but not permission. In the video, Morganti shows you how he created his Google alerts and offers a basic (but important) tip to make sure your inbox isn’t flooded with irrelevant alerts.

How to check if a photo is stolen

2. Reverse Image Search

The most-used and still probably most-useful free way to find your images online, Reverse Image Search is an indispensable tool.

In the video, Morganti covers three different options. You can search by Image URL, you can upload your images one by one to Google Image search, or you can right click on an image (only available in Chrome and Firefox) and select “Search Google for Image.”

It’s a basic approach, but to quote the movie Anchorman, “60% of the time, it works EVERY time.”

3. Invisible Watermarks

The final approach Morgani discusses is a bit more advanced and, as a result, it costs money. Using a paid service like Digimarc, you can add “invisible” watermarks to your image. We put invisible in quotes because pixel peepers might be able to sniff it out in Photoshop, but otherwise it’s extremely difficult for the human eye to detect.

How to check if a photo is stolenCan you see the watermark? It’s there…

“But what good is a watermark if it’s invisible?” you may ask. Digimarc uses these invisible marks to find your images online with their own special reverse image search, generating a report that shows you everywhere your photo has been shared with and without permission.

True, it’s a paid service, but if you’re serious about keeping track of your images and finding infringers, this approach is hard to beat.

There are many ways to keep track of your stolen photos online, but these three methods will cover you pretty well without eating up all of your time or covering your photos in ugly watermarks. Check out the video up top to see each method demonstrated, and if you like what you see, you can dive deeper on Morganti’s YouTube channel.

How to check if a photo is stolen

Photos and other images get stolen all the time online. Someone takes a photo from the photographer’s website or social media channels and uses it for their own needs. This is completely illegal and happens to me all the time here at How-To Geek.

Stealing images is super common, so how can you tell if a photo on a website has been taken from somewhere else? Let’s find out.

Check for Copyright Data

Right click on the image you want to check and click “Copy Image Address.” Note that the exact wording of that command might be different in different browsers, but you’ll find the command you’re after.

How to check if a photo is stolen

Head to Metapicz, paste in the URL you copied, and click the “Go” button.

How to check if a photo is stolen

How to check if a photo is stolen

Use Reverse Image Search

The other good way to find out if a photo has been stolen is to use a reverse image search and a bit of detective work.

There are a few different reverse image sites out there. Google’s is the most well known, but Bing also has a good one. TinEye is interesting, and their matching technology is better than most. Unfortunately, I’ve found they don’t crawl a lot of the sites where my images end up, so their database is far less complete. For this article, I’m going to use Google.

On the Google Images page click the little camera icon in the search bar.

How to check if a photo is stolen

Either paste in a URL or upload a file from your computer.

How to check if a photo is stolen

Google will show you what it thinks the image is as well as some visually similar photos, but what we’re interested in is the “Pages That Include Matching Images” section.

How to check if a photo is stolen

You can see there are two How-To Geek links—totally authorized uses of my photo—and three non-How-To Geek pages. They’re all using this photo of mine illegally.

This is where the detective work comes into play. Since we’re using a photo we know has been stolen from How-To Geek, it’s easy to guess which the original is. If we didn’t already know this, we’d need to go through each site and check things like:

  • Which article was posted first; it’s not a perfect test, but it’s one of the best.
  • Which site seems the most reputable. It’s another imperfect, but an often reliable test.
  • Where the image is available in the highest resolution since it’s more likely to be the original.
  • If there is a color version or other less edited version, it’s probably the original. Removing text from a photo or adding color to a black and white image is a lot of work.
  • Does the image appear in any photographer’s portfolio websites? While some photographers steal photos and claim them as their own, it’s not as common as random people stealing from photographers’ websites.

It’s become increasingly common for people stealing images—at least those who know what they’re doing—to make some edits to the images they take. I tested Google’s reverse image search to see how it did at detecting some simple edits and, to be honest, it blew me away.

  • A black and white version of the photo.
  • A cropped version of the photo.
  • A cropped black and white version of the photo.
  • A cropped version of the photo with text added.
  • A cropped high contrast version of the photo.
  • A cropped high contrast version of the photos with the colors changed.
  • A cropped, reversed version of the photo.

How to check if a photo is stolen

Google only failed on the very last one. It didn’t matter that I changed the colors or added text, it still returned the same results. That’s pretty incredible. Someone would really have to make an effort to change an image quite a bit for Google not to catch it.

Image theft—or more specifically, images being used without appropriate permission—is a big problem online. It can also be an expensive one. If you use someone’s photo without their permission, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars. Just be careful when you’re using images you haven’t paid a stock photo site for or when you don’t know exactly who took them.

How to check if a photo is stolen

If you are a good photographer and you upload your photos online, it’s inevitable that someone will steal them at some point. Although it’s in a way flattering that someone likes your photos, it’s by no means the way to express their liking.

If you want to check whether someone has stolen your photos and where they are, Anthony Morganti discusses four possible ways of doing it. Three of them are free and one is paid, and all of them can do a fair job in finding your images on online places where they don’t belong.

Google your name

How to check if a photo is stolen

The first method is to simply google your name. I’m sure we’ve all done this at some point. This will help you discover if someone uses your photo, but gives you credit, maybe even links to your website. In a way, this person “borrows” your image without your permission, but at least credits you.

In these cases, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to do something about it. You can send them a takedown notice, and if you’re okay with getting the exposure without getting the money, you can leave it as is.

Set up a Google alert

How to check if a photo is stolen

The other way is again through Google, and in includes using Google Alerts. You can set them to find your name and your website. If the Google finds some of the terms from the alert, you will get an email. This is another way to check if someone has “borrowed” your photo and credited you, as your name will be next to the image.

Make sure to use quotation marks around your name to get the alerts for the exact phrase, like you do when you search Google. Otherwise, you’ll get alerts for every website that has your first name somewhere on the page, and your last name elsewhere.

Reverse image search

How to check if a photo is stolen

I’m sure most of us are familiar with this approach, the “Search by Image” option from Google. Instead of looking for your name on other websites, it looks for your photos.

You can go to Google Images and click a small camera icon. Then, you can upload your photo or enter an URL to a specific photo you want to check. Google will return the results for the photo you’re searching, as well as visually similar images.

I checked it with one of my photos for illustration purposes, and I was surprised to see that it ended up on some Russian booking website. So, as you see, even average photographers get their photos stolen.

How to check if a photo is stolen

Paid solution: digital watermark

As I said, the last solution is paid and it includes adding a digital watermark to your images when you upload them online. The human eye can’t detect it, but the software can in case someone steals your image. And when it happens, you’ll get notified. You get the notifications like with Google Alerts, but for your images, not for your name.

Anthony uses Digimarc, and it’s a paid service with three levels: Basic ($59), Business ($119) and Enterprise (custom price). What you get is a plug-in for Photoshop, and you need to apply it to your images through “Filter” option.

How to check if a photo is stolen

When you apply the digital watermark, you can go to the Digimarc’s website and get a report to see if there were any stolen images in the previous period you determine.

There are certain downsides to this approach, though. First of all is the obvious one – it’s paid. The second one is that it won’t go through certain firewalls – it won’t find your images on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter or any of the websites that have a certain firewall. And unfortunately, this problem is the same with Google: if someone uploads your photo on Facebook, for example, chances are weak you’ll find it.

Despite some limitations these approaches have, they’ll still get you somewhere. They are all a good way to search at least a part of the web for your images and find them in places where they don’t belong. And something is certainly better than nothing.

I’m curious to know, do you check for your images and do you send takedown notes? What’s your usual way of searching, and do you use any of the paid methods?

Find out if someone’s been stealing your pictures

Ever found an image on Instagram or Facebook and wanted to see if that picture shows up anywhere else on the Internet? Or maybe you want to see if an image of yours was stolen by someone else who published it without authorization?

In any of these cases, you need to perform a reverse image search. There are a couple of different tools you can use to do a reverse image search. In this article, I’m going to talk about how you can find different sizes for an image and how you can find other websites that have an identical image.

Google Image Search

Google most likely has the biggest index of online images than anyone else. If you’re looking for an image, the best place to start is at images.google.com.

How to check if a photo is stolen

Click on the small camera icon and then screen will change so that you can either paste an image URL or upload an image that you want to search for.

How to check if a photo is stolen

If the image you are wanting to search for is online, just right-click on it and choose Copy Image Address/Copy Image URL if using Google Chrome. In Edge, the only option is to save the picture to your computer. Other browsers have similar options. You can either copy the image URL or download it.

How to check if a photo is stolen

Click Search by Image and you’ll get a results page that looks like this:

How to check if a photo is stolen

In my test, I just grabbed the URL for one of the images in a post I had written earlier. The image was a free stock photo, so I knew it was going to show up somewhere else on the web. By default, Google tries to make a best “guess” on what the image means, but as you can see from above, QR codes have nothing to do with the holidays.

However, that’s not what interests me about the search. If you are looking for a higher quality version of the image you are searching for, just click on All sizes under the Find other sizes for this image heading.

How to check if a photo is stolen

If you need to perform image search often, then it might be a good idea to install the Search by Image extension in Google Chrome. It’s from Google and completely free. What’s nice is that you can right-click on any image and choose Search Google with this image. No need to copy the URL of the image or download it and then re-upload it.

How to check if a photo is stolen

TinEye

Another good option for reverse image searches is TinEye. They’ve been around for a long time, they have over 25 billion images indexed and they focus exclusively on image search.

How to check if a photo is stolen

When you perform a search in TinEye, the results are a bit different than the way Google shows results. Here is an example of a search for the Startbucks logo:

How to check if a photo is stolen

By default, it will show you results ordered by Most Changed. This means the image that is most different from the image you are searching for. If you want to see identical images, click on the dropdown and choose Best Match. If you want the highest quality images, choose Biggest Image.

You can also click on the two options at the top to show only results from collections and show only stock images.

How to check if a photo is stolen

If you click on the image in the results, it’ll bring up a little box which you can use to compare the image to your image. Click the Switch button and it’ll go back and forth, showing yours and the matching image.

TinEye also has a Google Chrome extension that works pretty much exactly like Google’s except for the fact that it loads its own results as shown above.

These are pretty much the best options for performing reverse image searches online. If you want to perform a reverse image search on your smartphone, check out this post from PCMag. Enjoy!

Founder of Help Desk Geek and managing editor. He began blogging in 2007 and quit his job in 2010 to blog full-time. He has over 15 years of industry experience in IT and holds several technical certifications. Read Aseem’s Full Bio

About VINCheck

NICB’s VINCheck is a free lookup service provided to the public to assist in determining if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle by participating NICB member insurance companies. To perform a lookup, a vehicle identification number (VIN) is required. A maximum of five searches can be conducted within a 24-hour period per IP address.

Look Up a VIN

VINCheck ® Results

Use of these results is subject to the terms and conditions of use.

Do You Have a VINCheck Success Story?

More Information

Participating Companies

The NICB VINCheck database is made possible through the cooperation of these participating NICB members.

General Vehicle Information

By clicking on a vendor link, you are leaving the NICB website. The vehicle history report available on this site may require you to make a purchase. The NICB assumes no liability for the transaction or the product purchased.

An additional source for vehicle history data can be found on the National Motor Vehicle Titling Information System (NMVTIS) website.

If you’d like further historical information on this vehicle, visit ClearVin. An additional charge will apply to purchase a report.

If you’re searching a motorcycle, click for additional information from CycleVIN. An additional charge will apply to purchase a report.

If you’d like further historical information on this vehicle, visit EpicVIN. An additional charge will apply to purchase a report.

Edited by Ephraim, Nate Pepperell, Eng, Christine dela Cruz and 9 others

How to check for stolen photographs on the internet

How to check if a photo is stolen

How to Protect Your Photos from Getting Ripped Off

How to check if a photo is stolen

The Logic Behind Property Rights to Photos

How to check if a photo is stolen

Common Sites Where Photos Are Ripped Off

Questions and Answers

Can I know those who copied and saved my photos from my Facebook?

Is it possible to detect those who have copied and saved my pictures from Facebook

You can find out if someone used your Facebook photos on the internet by going to Google Images and clicking the camera icon in the search bar. Enter the URL of the photo or upload the photo from your computer to search for it. There is no way of knowing who/if someone downloads your Facebook photos to their computer, since Facebook doesn’t notify users of this action.

Get my pic off a secure website?

I think my pic and info are being used on a site for malicious / catfish purpose.. I have tried: I tried to search for it, but its on a site I don’t want to log onto.. I think it was caused by: I was on the site and was attacked by nasty group of people. I tried to make a dummy account to go back on and as soon as I did I was bombarded with messages and email requests and with in minutes they hacked my laptop and iPhone

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

How to find if someone gets my photos?

How to find if someone gets my photos on my Facebook account.

You cannot find out if someone downloads your picture from your Facebook account, but you can limit access to your pictures. Open your profile on Facebook and click “Photos”. Click “Albums”. Click the round icon in the lower-right corner of each album to limit access to the album to friends or even specific people.

To determine if photos have been synchronized and copied to a phone from my PC?

I asked a person that I trusted to copy a dozen pictures of me he took during a day trip together. He came when I was not home but was allowed to do this favor. He stayed around 10 minutes when I came home an hour later he already had left but on my PC a window of windows media player displayed a shocking evidence: on the right name of friend phone ASUS_Z00VD ,on the left 3 lines: Error: windows media player cannot convert files (about 100files, big videos), Already on the device (45 files), synchronized to device 10143 files (pictures, videos). I suspect that he copied all my pics on his phone (About 14Gb maybe compressed to much less to fit in). He told just few pics entered automatically in his phone by mistake and he immediately deleted them. Maybe if it is the case “already on the device” means the pics that really where copied to his Windows phone? or as I suspect he really copied 10143 files without my consent to see my private life? I specify he had access to my PC also few months ago: that could explain the 45 pics already present in his phone. Anyway no pics of our trip where saved to my PC. Please give me some suggestions, I can upload you a screenshot of this WMP window after sync. The difference is the presence of a Windows Media Player synchronization window still present on the PC screen. The window suggests that files have been actually deliberately taken, but there is still hope left of misinterpreting this. I have tried: I used a free software that detects the connection of USB devices to my PC USB review. software showed the real date time of connection present and past of this ASUS phone. I had so confirmation of that connection and of another past connection of the same device to my PC. I think it was caused by: I had to put sensitive data in compressed folders or be more careful about letting my PC without my surveillance for a too long time!

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

I need to know if someone is cat fishing me..I need you to help me find out if she’s a catfish?

Hello I met someone online and she refuses to send me a video of herself saying my name and she says I should trust her which is odd if we just met. Please help me out. I have a few of her photos. I’d like for you to search the photos and let me know if her twitter page is real or not. Her twitter page is only 6 months old. She said she recently created her twitter because she doesn’t care for the internet but I need a sense of security. Help me out. I need personal help. I would like assistance asap

Have you spoken to her over the phone? Offered to Skype with her? If she is refusing this, walk away. You already have doubts and trust those and not this random connection with a person over the internet. Take her profile photo from Twitter and run a reverse image search in Google and see what comes up. Do not send this person any money or personal information. Ask to meet in person and if she is too far away then insist on a video chat.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

About VINCheck

NICB’s VINCheck is a free lookup service provided to the public to assist in determining if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle by participating NICB member insurance companies. To perform a lookup, a vehicle identification number (VIN) is required. A maximum of five searches can be conducted within a 24-hour period per IP address.

Look Up a VIN

VINCheck ® Results

Use of these results is subject to the terms and conditions of use.

Do You Have a VINCheck Success Story?

More Information

Participating Companies

The NICB VINCheck database is made possible through the cooperation of these participating NICB members.

General Vehicle Information

By clicking on a vendor link, you are leaving the NICB website. The vehicle history report available on this site may require you to make a purchase. The NICB assumes no liability for the transaction or the product purchased.

An additional source for vehicle history data can be found on the National Motor Vehicle Titling Information System (NMVTIS) website.

If you’d like further historical information on this vehicle, visit ClearVin. An additional charge will apply to purchase a report.

If you’re searching a motorcycle, click for additional information from CycleVIN. An additional charge will apply to purchase a report.

If you’d like further historical information on this vehicle, visit EpicVIN. An additional charge will apply to purchase a report.

The phone may be gone, but your pictures could live on. depending on what your phone’s settings were.

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Greta Flederbach lost her Samsung Galaxy 5. She asked if there’s any way she can recover the photos on it. My answer isn’t exclusive to that phone.

Assuming you have a smartphone, there’s a very good chance that your photos are in the cloud somewhere. But with an old-fashioned cell phone, the chances are pretty much nil.

I assume you’ve already tried the obvious—using another phone to call yours, and listen for the ring. But that won’t help if the phone is really lost, so let’s concentrate on where, aside from your phone, those photos may be.

If you’re trying to retrieve photos from a phone still in your possession, you may want to read my February article on that subject.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to [email protected] .]

Today’s smartphones can upload your photos automatically to the cloud. Whether your phone actually did that depends on two things:

  1. If that was the phone’s default setting.
  2. If you changed that setting.

On an Android phone, the uploaded photos probably uploaded to Google Drive. (I say probably because phone manufacturers like to change Android’s default settings.) To see if you’re in luck, open your browser of choice to Google Drive. Click the big blue Go to Google Drive button in the center. If you’re not logged onto your Google account (which could be your Youtube or Gmail account), you’ll have to log in with your password. Once there, click Google Photos in the left pane. If your photos are there, you’re in luck.

iOS behaves in a similar way. Your photos have likely been uploaded to iCloud.

Something else to consider: Do you use another cloud-based storage service, such as Dropbox? If so, and if you installed the app for that service onto your phone, the photos may have uploaded to that service.

One caveat: All of these services default to uploading only when it has access to a Wi-Fi network. They do this to save you money—cellular services tend to have low data caps. So you may not be able to recover the most recent photos on the phone.

But if your phone is lost or stolen, the loss of photos may not be your biggest problem. Check with your carrier or the phone’s manufacturer to see what tools are built into the phone that can help you either recover the phone or make it useless to a thief.

Finally, it’s a good idea to make sure your photos are uploading before you lose your phone. If it’s an Android phone, follow the Google Drive instructions above to see if your photos are there. If not, check the Backup option in your phone’s settings; they vary from phone to phone.

Another option would be to set up a Dropbox account on your PC, then install the Dropbox app on your phone. You’ll find the Camera Upload feature in Dropbox Settings. It’s on by default.

How to Check If a Credit Card Is Valid

As a merchant who processes credit cards, you may occasionally cross paths with a fraudster. A fraudster steals another individual’s credit card number and uses it to make purchases. Most fraudsters will attempt to use a stolen credit card number before the card owner realizes it is stolen. Although there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself against fraudulent purchases, there are only a few ways to verify that the card is not stolen.

Request to see the customer’s government-issued photo ID if it is an in-person transaction. When checking the ID, be sure that the name on the ID matches the name on the credit card.

Attempt to process the credit card by swiping it through a POS (point of sale) system or by obtaining authorization through a payment gateway. When a card is stolen, the owner of the card generally reports the card to the credit card company. The credit card company then places an alert on the card indicating that it is stolen. You will see this alert when attempting to process the card if the card has been reported stolen.

Call the telephone number that is on the back of the card. Advise the customer service representative that you would like to verify whether or not the credit card has been stolen. Provide her with the credit card number to verify the status of the card.

Request the CVC code that is on the back of the credit card. In order to get this code, the individual must have access to the credit card. If the individual cannot provide the CVC code, it is likely that he is attempting to use a stolen credit card number.

  • Practical eCommerce: Effective Tools To Detect Stolen Credit Cards, Part 1 Of 3
  • Wisco Computing: Merchant Credit Card Fraud
  • Federal Trade Commission. “Lost or Stolen Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards.” Accessed Sept. 30, 2019.

Faizah Imani, an educator, minister and published author, has worked with clients such as Harrison House Author, Thomas Weeks III, Candle Of Prayer Company and “Truth & Church Magazine.” Her dossier includes JaZaMM WebDesigns, assistant high-school band director, district manager for the Clarion Ledger and event coordinator for the Vicksburg Convention Center.