So, can social networking really cause identity theft? This was an interesting topic that was the subject of a breakfast group meeting I attended recently. It really got me thinking how much someone will know about you when they see your Facebook, LinkedIN, or even Twitter account.
They know what your name is, your date of birth, physical location, who your relatives are, marital status, your friends, what things you love to do, and so much more! All of this information can give scammers a great opportunity to take advantage of you.
We were told about a woman who took a phone call from a man who said that he was the son of one of her uncles. He was posing as a desperate relative who needed some money for an operation for a heredity complaint. She was skeptical at first but after questioning him, he knew so much about her family and history that she ended up sending him some money to help him out. It turned out it was all just a scam. I can’t help but think would I have fallen for something similar.
Well I have some tips on how to avoid this happening to you and it doesn’t mean you have to give up social networking, it just means you need to be careful on how much information you are giving:
- Remove your date of birth, physical address and mothers’ maiden name from your Facebook profile.
- Set your profile on private and be very careful of who you give access to your profile.
- Remember that once you post information online, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete the information from a site, older versions exist on other people’s computers.
- If a social networking site doesn’t look safe or you can’t figure out the privacy settings, don’t use it. Go somewhere safe.
- Do not discuss holiday/travel plans online. No one needs to know when you’re going on holidays or even on business trips. Tell all about the trips AFTER you return. And don’t ask others about their plans, either, encouraging them to post their private info.
- Watch what you do list online, regardless of privacy settings. A thief can take your digital photo and all other info and use your identity. Don’t give them all that ammunition. Upload a favorite animal or flower image, for example, instead of your face. List the nearest large city instead of the small town where you live. Use a nickname, maiden name or other identity listing.
Yours in design,