Social media provides identity thieves with many opportunities to steal your identity, but most people are unaware they’re even at risk. In fact, 70 percent of people have been asked to visit a scam website via private message, 54 percent of social media profiles have been targeted for identity theft, and 15 percent of people have had their account accessed without their permission. What are you doing to prevent identity theft on social media websites?
A recent study shows that 93 percent of Facebook users share their full name on their social media profile, 60 percent share the full names of family members, and 33 percent share their employer information. Although you are prompted to provide your full name, your date of birth, the city in which you live, and other personal identifying information when you sign-up with a social networking site like Facebook, you don’t have to supply it. However, publishing this information for all the world to see makes it easy for an identity thief to get to work.
How Social Media Increases Your Chances of Identity Theft
It’s no secret that social media plays an important part in many of our lives. We stay in touch with old friends, share family photos, share status updates, share links to interesting content, in addition to many other uses. While this is a great way to stay connected and has made the world a lot smaller, social media profiles and the tidbits of information people share—such as saying when they’re out of town—make them perfect targets for identity thieves.
Online games are breeding grounds for social media identity theft as well. These games often offer incentives to players to fill out forms with their personal information. Some even ask users to fill out a loan application, which requires supplying their Social Security number. With users sharing games among friends, thousands of gamers can become victims before they’ve even signed off for the night.
Protecting Yourself From Social Media Identity Theft
There are many things you can do (and not do) to prevent identity theft on social media websites. Here are a few easy ways to protect yourself from identity theft while still using social media to stay connected and have fun online:
Don’t be friends with everyone: Many social media users accept friend requests from anyone who sends them one. For all you know, one of those new “friends” is an identity thief trying to steal your information. Just like in “the real world,” you should only share private information with people you know.
Use privacy settings: Most social media profiles allow you to choose who can see your profile and how much of it they can see. Set all personal information to “private” and only allow friends to access the information.
Omit personal data: Your personal information is not required to start a social media profile. In fact, you don’t even need your real name. Instead of using your full name, use a nickname or other alias. You also don’t want to provide additional information that help identity thieves, including your address, hometown or birthplace, date of birth, and employer information.
Don’t tag locations: If you’re away from home, don’t tag yourself in a location. This tells identity thieves where you are and can increase the chances of your home being broken into while you’re out of town.
Unfortunately, identity thieves are waiting to pounce around every online corner. Providing even the most basic information makes you vulnerable to social media identity theft, which can result in huge financial losses that can take years from which to recover.
Get Identity Theft Protection
When it comes to social media identity theft, becoming a victim is a “when” not “if” situation. Take the precautions discussed above for your social media profile, and consider signing-up with a protection service such as ID Theft Solutions so your identity will be monitored and even recovered after it’s stolen.