Social media is a treasure trove of information for those looking to acquire the identity of another. This is not just an issue here in the U.S. but also globally. According to a recent article, nearly 86% of all cases of identity fraud were classified as “internet-enabled,” with social media a leading source of personal information used to impersonate individuals for fraudulent activity.
When you consider security questions and the answers one uses to recover or prove identity – it can be disconcerting. Mother’s maiden name? Place of birth? First pet? These are all things that people post on social media. Even familial connections can be traced for those looking hard enough, aunts, cousins and parents.
Social media is a wonderful way to keep in touch with those we care about. It provides opportunities to communicate in ways we never have before. Certainly sharing information is positive but we put together a small list of suggestions that might ease your mind when going forward:
• Be careful with status updates. Often we innocently post information that might provide gems to an identity thief. For instance, “Happy Birthday Mom,” and then tagging her in it. Possibly your mother’s maiden name will be associated with that post going forward.
• Do not revel your birthplace or location. Be cautious with this information. You can use a fake city or just leave it blank. When paired with your birthday, having this information public now gives potential thieves your birthday and place of birth/current city.
• We’ve mentioned this before, but be careful with links. Hackers love social networking and sending emails with malicious code. Shortened URL’s (web links) are very susceptible to hackers. They can also trick people into visiting harmful sites. Hover over the link (without clicking) and you can see the full website address, if you recognize it click away. If the website looks unfamiliar, it’s best to avoid it.
• Vacation updates. Posting photos and updating your status en-route to Europe is like standing up in the middle of a crowd and announcing your absence. Avoid posting specific plans, where, when or how long you’ll be gone.
As with all forms of social media, use the highest level of security settings so you can still share special moments with your friends while still protecting yourself. If you have questions or concerns we would love to hear your feedback, email us at PR@CBHarper.com.
Those Sales Agents who are part of the Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS® brokerage have access to our team of Information Technology Professionals. They are also happy to provide service with a smile.