It is no secret that identity theft is a major issue today. While many people worry about online shopping, they do not realize social media may also be to blame for the identity theft.
One of the ways that social media sites stay in business is with advertisements. They customize these advertisements for the companies they work with by obtaining as much information as they can about the users. This could be anything from where you live now (and have lived in the past), where you work, how old you are, and many other aspects. While this may seem like benign information, in the wrong hands, this can be a recipe for identity theft.
How to fix this: The best thing you can do is give out as little information as possible. While it may not be possible to erase the information you have given, make sure you do not give too much in the future. It is a good idea to use generalities with these sites or simply skipping the questions the site asks of you.
Using a Status Update
Whether it is a tweet or a Facebook update, potential identity theft victims can use this information against you. This could be as simple as a post that you are out of town or your pet’s name which can be used as a security question to access your accounts. There are many ways these random bits of information can be used against you.
How to fix this: Most people can’t refrain from posting all together. That’s why you need to control your privacy settings. This will help to make sure the only people who see your status are people who are trusted. If you cannot do this, then try not to give out sensitive information, such as your middle name and birth year.
Other Tips for Social Media
It is impossible to refrain from giving out any information that can be used against you; after all, most information seems totally innocent until it winds up in the wrong hands. That’s why it is so important to remember to critically evaluate the potential risk of information before sharing it.
Here are some extra tips to help you – and your identity – stay safe:
- Be careful about who you accept as a friend. If you do not know them in real life, then chances are they could be a scam artist who will steal your identity.
- Age shifting is something people use to keep potential thieves from knowing their real birthday. The key here is to keep it close to your birthday so it seems believable.
- Google yourself regularly to know what comes up when a thief tries to get your information. It can also be helpful to set up a Google alert for your name, unless you have a very common name. This will help you to know what new information gets out there.
- Rather than having an actual answer for security questions, use another password so someone cannot just look up the information.
- Hire an identity theft protection company. A good service will not only keep an eye on your credit, but will alert you right away if there is potential danger. Most companies also offer identity theft insurance with their plans so if something slips through and you are the victim of identity theft, you will not have to worry.
- Stay alert to current trends in the world of fraud. If you suspect fraudulent behavior, tell people about it. Companies like eConsumerServices fight internet fraud and offer fraud protection to consumers. They can help protect other people who may find themselves in the same position as you.
Sadly, in today’s technology driven world, we all need to guard ourselves against never-before-known villains. Protect your information in social networks and you’ll have a better chance of maintaining your identity.