Are Social Networks Putting You At Risk?

This is a guest post by Phoenix TS.

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Consumers share a significant amount of personal information on various social networking sites and as a result are putting themselves at greater risk for identity fraud. So how can you protect yourself? Follow these simple steps and decrease your chances of falling victim to identity thieves.

Are Social Networks Putting You at Risk?

There is no denying that in today’s world there isn’t much that can be done without using the internet. A person can very easily perform their banking needs, complete a graduate degree, find a job and even find that perfect someone all on their laptops, smartphone or tablet. The use of the web has become an integral part of life and as a result many people do not see it as anything but a means to going about their day and do not think twice about the information they put out there for the world to see. 

Millions of people actively engage on multiple social networking sites in order to connect with the world around them. These sites are used in order to form social, business or personal connections with people all over the world. While creating these connections is fun and often times necessary, it is also one that cannot be completed without disclosing personal information. For this reason, Javelin Research incorporated social media behaviors amongst consumers into their 2012 Identity Fraud Report. This report actually showed that consumers share a significant amount of personal information on various social networking sites and as a result are putting themselves at greater risk for identity fraud. Since the 2011 report, identity theft increased 13%, affecting roughly 12 million Americans, the majority of which were actively engaging on social networking sites. The identity fraud rate associated with the world’s top social networks includes:
  • 10% of LinkedIn users 
  • 7% of Google+ users 
  • 6.3% of Twitter users 
  • 5.7% of Facebook users
Based on this information, roughly 17.5 million LinkedIn users experienced some degree of identity fraud; all of which could easily be prevented if the right precautions were taken. 

So how can you protect yourself from falling victim? Realize that you are vulnerable on these sites and don’t put anything that could put you at risk for identity theft. Some basic tips to follow when using social networking sites:
  • Ensure your device has the proper security measures in place and the connection is secure, this includes mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
  • Use strong passwords and do not use the same password for every account.
  • Think about the information you make available, if it is not something you would tell to a complete stranger, then don’t post it.
  • Do not use your full name to identify yourself or use your full date of birth.
  • Do not post your current or past addresses, phone numbers or primary email address.
  • Use private profiles and only invite into your network those people you know.
  • Be aware of the groups you are joining because then all the members of those groups can gain access to your information.
Finally, just to be sure your information is safe, Google yourself. Go through the results and see if personal information about you appears and then do something about it. By following all of this tips and managing your online presence you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud.

About the author:

Phoenix TS is a management, computer, IT and cyber security training company headquartered in Columbia, Maryland.

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