Avoid ID Theft - Never Share Personal Information on Social Media
Written by: Kristy Welsh
Last Updated: April 19, 2017
Social media outlets are more popular than ever and not just with adults, but with teenagers as well. With the digitization of personal information and the popularity of social media, your privacy is at risk more than ever. Internet stalkers are just waiting for some unsuspecting person to share information on FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google +, where they can steal it and use it for identity theft or fraud. You or your child may feel that posting trivial information on FaceBook is innocent, but you will be surprised on what little information an ID thief really needs to cause complete havoc in your financial life. The following pieces of information should never, or very sparingly, be shared on any social media outlet.
Never Share Your Driver's License Information
Posting this type of information may be more germane to your teenager. Your child may want to boost to their "friends" that they now have a driver's license or maybe they want to share that silly ID photo with all of the world. Unbeknownst to them, a driver's license or any form on I.D. contains more than just a funny picture, it contains date of birth, address, and sometimes even a social security number. One or more of these bits of information, in the wrong hands, is more than enough to steal your child's identity. Access to this information could allow identity thieves to open a new line of credit, like a credit card, and ruin your kid's credit in the process.
Do Not Post Vacation Itinerary and Location Information
We all know how excited we are to share photos of the beach you are visiting or maybe the winery where you are going wine tasting, but this kind of information can be used by thieves. Not only does a burglar know you are not home, but they may know when you will be back since you have posted all of this information on FaceBook. Using all of this information, they can plan the robbery of your home or maybe your place of business, if you own a small business. If you use geotagging for your posts to show your location or list the city where you live, burglars can use this information, along with your personal information, to find out exactly where you live and target your home. We can't think of anything worse than coming back from a wonderful vacation to find your house has been robbed.
Never Share Bank Account Information
This really should go without saying, but apparently it needs to be said - never, ever post any kind of financial information on a public forum such as FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google Plus. But imagine this, your child who just got their first job, is so excited about their first paycheck that they post a picture of the check AND they add #myfirstpaycheck to it. Need we say more? Any low-life identity thief can access that hash tag, or similar, and pull up all those posts from overly excited employees posting way more information than they should. A paycheck contains a lot of personal information, your name, address, where you work, banking information, which is more than enough to get your ID stolen. Not only is your child putting themselves at risk, but they are also exposing their place of business as someone could use the check information to create fake checks and steal from the business.
Limit the Amount of Personal Information on Social Media Profiles
Let's face it, most of us use one or more social media platforms to stay connected to our friends and family by way of sharing pictures, thoughts, and experiences with each other. Knowing that you want to share your info with only those people, you need to make sure you are adjusting your privacy settings on each forum. You are able to limit access to just your "friends" and you should make sure these people are really your friends. Limiting access is a great way to control who sees what when you are sharing information. You should also limit "what" you give out as personal information. Does everyone really need to know where you work, who you are married to, or what your birthdate is? If you are worried about ID theft, the less information you share the better and less chance your ID will be stolen.
With the increased global use of social media, comes the greater opportunities for ID theft and ID fraud to happen online. Social networking sites have the greatest potential for abuse due to the fact anyone can access them from anywhere in the world. Keep in mind the less personal information you share, the less chance you will fall victim to ID theft. Leave off sensitive personal information and only give out general information when it comes to posting activities and personal info. It is also a good practice to change passwords regularly and make sure your password is not your pet's name - which you posted on FaceBook.
Lastly, as we have recommended in other identity theft articles, pull your credit at lease once a year to make sure there is no fraudulent information on your credit.