From the Huffington Post (7/23/09)
By Robert Siciliano
There’s a lot of excessive trust in the Facebook world. People have entirely dropped their sense of cynicism when logged on. Apparently, they see no reason to distrust. Generally, your “friends” are people who you “know, like and trust.” In this world, your guard is as down as it will ever be. You can be in the safety of your own home or office, hanging with people from all over the world, in big cities and little towns, and never feel that you have to watch your back.
PC World reports that a third of social networkers have at least three pieces of information posted on their pages that could lead to identity theft. Names, addresses, birth dates, mothers’ maiden names, kids’ names, pets’ names and phone numbers are among the various types of data that could help a criminal piece together your identity. Social networkers are simply making it too easy for thieves.
Almost 80% of those polled are concerned about privacy issues on social networks, yet almost 60% are unaware of what their privacy settings are and who can see their data. One third of social networkers admitted that they use the same password for all their social networking accounts.
Most social networks have privacy settings that many users never venture to manage. It is imperative to spend a few minutes and lock down your profiles so they can’t be seen by everyone in the world.
It is not unusual for a potential identity thief to “friend” a potential victim. The thief poses as someone the target may know, or someone who is known within the target’s social circle. Once the thief has been accepted as a friend, he or she is in the target’s inner circle and gains a great deal of insight into the target’s daily life.
People often try to “friend” me, and I can see that they are “friends” with people I know. But I don’t know them. And the mutual friends often tell me that they don’t know the person, but were “friends” with someone else they knew, and they accepted based on that! That’s nuts! Next thing you know, they are trolling through your “friends” and befriending people in your network, who accept based on their trust in you! Dizzy yet? The point is, stop the madness! Don’t allow these trolls into your life. Mom told you not to talk to strangers. I’m telling you not to “friend” strangers, because they could be scammers.
Scammers are watching. They know that once they are on Facebook, your guard goes way down.
Regardless of all this craziness protect your identity.
1. Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search “credit freeze” or “security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes the SSN useless to the thief.
2. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection and Prevention. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to you.