Keep Your Identity Safe On Social Networks

From (7/13/09)

Identity theft never stops. Does your social networking page look something like this:

Hi, my name is Mary Sunshine. My birthday is 7/13/2009 and I was born in Podunk, Alabama. I have a dog named Sassafrass. I hope everyone will become my new friend.”

Now what could be wrong with writing something like that? How could an identity thief possibly get your personal information from stuff this innocent?

Here’s how…

Congress recently passed legislation that approved the use of the last four digits of  your social security number on public documents. Now that may seem harmless until you realize that knowing where someone was born and their birthdate are great clues to figuring out the first five digits of your social security number. As a matter of fact, researchers have been able to accurately guess the first 5 digits about 40% of the time. And now our legislators have handed the last piece of the puzzle to thieves on a silver plate.

The other dangerous bit of information you’ve volunteered is your dog’s name. I hope that you’re not one of those people who use their dog’s name for a password – for email, online banking, etc. I know several people who do – they use it for ALL their passwords because they don’t like to think of something harder. Hey, I even remember an episode of Stargate where our ‘hero’ guessed the ‘villlians’ password by using his dog’s name. It’s that commonly done.

The internet is not a happy playground where everyone gets along and loves each other. It’s full of people with no conscience who will gladly steal anything they can get their hands on – especially if it involves little risk to themselves. Identity theft is the perfect crime for them because the odds of being caught are small. The odds of being convicted are even smaller. There’s a big payday for identity thieves without any repercussions.

Think twice before you give out so much information on social networking sites. Keep your identity safe!


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