Long gone are the days where 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.
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.
It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of US residents over 18 years of age have at least one social media profile. And in 2017, there were over 16 million victims of identify theft.
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.
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.
Here are a few tips to help keep yourself safe:
- Create strong, multi character passwords for email and all apps
- Change passwords often
- 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, just know that someone else might be.