It’s no secret that many people share personal information on Facebook. However, many people don’t realize that they are sometimes giving enough information to make identify theft and Internet fraud extremely easy!
How Facebook Fuels Identity Theft And Internet Fraud
Imagine that you have a few accounts with some very sensitive and/or private data and so you not only assign a password, but you also choose a couple of “security questions” that very few people could answer about you. Then you go and post the answers on a website to which over half a billion people belong!!!
At first, this idea sounds crazy, but just think about the various information that you share on Facebook and other social networks…does it still sound crazy? Think about the information that many financial institutions use in order to keep your information free from Internet fraud and identity theft:
- Phone Number
- Pet’s Name
- Street Where You Grew Up
- City of Birth
- Favorite Book/Author
- Favorite Movie
- Favorite Historical Figure
I’m sure that you can think of more things to add to this list as well. Now think about how many times you have shared this information on Facebook. I can go to most of my friends’ profiles and find out their phone number, pet’s name, birthday, hometown, favorite author/book/movie, etc.
Not only are many sharing this private data, but they also fail to understand the privacy features of Facebook and other websites. For instance, Facebook is always changing their default privacy and account settings, and when those changes happen, you have to remember to make the necessary adjustments each time!
So, not only can your “friends” see the answers to your security questions and passwords, but so can “friends of friends”, and sometimes even perfect strangers and search engine traffic!
Status Updates And Check In Points
Do you know what you are saying when you post your current location on Twitter, or Foursquare? I’M NOT HOME, PLEASE ROB ME!!! In fact, the site PleaseRobMe.com used to post this type of information. They would search on Twitter and Foursquare, and whenever someone would post their location, or tweet about where they are, it would get posted to the “Please Rob Me website”!
They have since received a lot of publicity and decided the shut the service down, since their message of warning has finally been taken seriously – many people actually saw them as a “one-stop-shop” for robbers.
Stop Posting Your Vacation Plans!
This is another one that has become very popular! People are constantly putting their vacation plans on Facebook and Twitter in advance! All you are really telling others is, “my house will be completely empty for the next 10 days, feel free to take whatever you want…we won’t even be in the country!”.
If you want people to share in that moment, just wait until you get back and then post pictures!
Quizzes And Games
Remember that information that we listed above? Well, if you don’t include that in your profile, there are other ways to get it out of you! Think about all of those quizzes that ask you a bunch of personal questions and then you can see how well your friends know you. Be careful about what information you share!
The same concept is true with all of the games and applications that want access to your personal information in order for you to play or use them. Definitely think twice about paying real money in order to interact with these games.
In fact, one quick piece of advice is that when you are shopping online be sure to either use a service such as PayPal, or a credit card (preferably with a virtual account number). This way you are protected against various Malware that tracks your keystrokes and other information.
I recently wrote about the fact that the consequences of identity theft are becoming more severe and expensive. Being careless on Facebook is not worth the time, effort, and money that it takes to recover from identity theft and Internet fraud.
One quick piece of advice is that when you are shopping online be sure to either use a service such as PayPal, or a credit card (preferably with a virtual account number). One of the most common of the credit card benefits is fraud protection. However, this should not replace the idea of being careful and using discretion while posting information online!
- Have you ever posted your vacation plans on a social network?
- Do you have any of the information listed above available on Facebook or some other network?
- Are you planning on making any changes to your profiles?