Social Media Identity Theft: Are Your Habits Helping Identity Thieves?
Are you concerned about Identity Theft? We’ve got some tips on how you can protect your personal information and minimize your exposure to having your identity stolen.
Long gone are the days when we would connect with friends and family without using social media. This is the 21st century, after all. Relationships are formed and broken in this virtual world.
Are You Vulnerable to Identity Theft?
We post pictures of our family, our dinner, our likes and our dislikes for all the world to see. And while this instantaneous gratification can be exciting, it can also leave us very vulnerable, particularly to identity theft.
Number of People Affected by Identity Theft
It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of US residents over 18 years of age have at least one social media profile. And in 2021, there were more than 42 million victims of identity theft (AARP.com).
While you might think it is the responsibility of Facebook or any other platform to safeguard your information, you should be well aware, by now, they can’t guarantee it. Hardly a month goes by where the news does not share of a business that has been hacked.
And each one of those instances increases the likelihood of your identity being stolen.
But it is not only corporate security hacks that threaten the community. The harmless sharing of your life events on social media can also lead to individual cyber-criminal activity.
Things You’ve Done that Create ID Theft Vulnerability
How many of these are you guilty of?
- Having the same username and password for multiple accounts (bank, credit cards, etc)
- Having downloaded a 3rd party app and approved permission to access information on your device
- Shared personal information like birthdates, driver’s license number or vacation plans on social media either directly, via a private chat or on the profile page
- Accepted an invitation to ‘friend’ someone unfamiliar
Any or all of these (and much more) is an open invitation for a criminal to steal your identity for his or her gain.
With just one small nugget of information, fraudsters can take over your bank account, rob your home or even just ‘prank’ you with anonymous activities that eventually take over your sense of security and safety.
9 Things You Can Do Now to Secure Your Identity
Here are a few tips to help keep yourself safe:
- Create robust and strong multi-character passwords for email and all apps
- Change passwords every few months
- Answers to app security questions should not be obvious to anyone looking at your social media profiles (i.e. hometown, high school, pet names, etc)
- Enter as little information as possible on any 3rd party apps
- Be cautious when posting online—don’t share plans or personal information
- Make sure your app privacy settings are at the highest level
- Avoid accepting connections from people you are not familiar with
- Verify that any links sent to you were actually sent from someone you know
- Google your own name to track any possible forgery activities
Remember, you are in control of what you share and to whom. Don’t let fear keep you from social media, but rather ensure you utilize it in a safe way. Keep your personal information safe and don’t share it online unless you would be comfortable in anyone knowing it.
If you aren’t paying attention, know that someone else might be.