From MyBackgroundCheck.com (7/2/09)
By Tom Ahearn
According to a new survey from Internet security software provider Webroot, members of online social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter may be more vulnerable to identity theft, fraud, and financial loss than they realize.
The survey of over 1,100 members of popular social networks uncovered numerous risky behaviors by social networkers that put them at risk for identity theft and other crimes, including two-thirds of users knowingly or unknowingly sharing personal information with strangers. Among the highlights:
Two-thirds of respondents don’t restrict any details of their personal profile from being visible through a public search engine like Google;
Over half aren’t sure who can see their profile;
About one third include at least three pieces of personally identifiable information (PII);
Over one third use the same password across multiple sites; and
One quarter accept “friend requests” from strangers.
In addition, three in ten people polled in the survey experienced a security attack through a social network in the past year, including identity theft, unauthorized password changes, and “friend in distress” money-stealing scams. The survey respondents who reported experiencing identity theft, a hijacked account, and unauthorized username or password changes may have been victimized by hackers who were able to access their profiles and guess their passwords based on the personal information they included.
The growth of social networks presents hackers with a huge identity theft target. The first step in stopping identity theft is to know what the threats are and how to prevent them. One step social networkers can take to avoid identity theft is closely monitoring their personal information – including criminal records and credit reports.
To help prevent identity theft, MyBackgroundCheck.com offers individuals a way to “self” background check themselves. With a MyBackgroundCheck.com account, members can keep a close eye on their personal information to make sure it stays current, secure, and accurate – and protected from identity theft.