As more Americans turn to social media to post updates, share photos and connect with friends, many users are overlooking a growing threat: with every post, they're becoming increasingly vulnerable to identity theft.
Simple, innocent actions online can quickly turn into serious and detrimental identity theft cases. Before you display a thorough profile on social media or divulge all of the details about your children's full names and dates of birth, know that not every "friend" on Facebook or other social media platforms have good intentions. In fact, a survey by CreditDonkey revealed that nearly 25% of Facebook users admit to adding "friends" who they don't know. Read on for some specific social media mishaps that could land you in hot water.
1. Sharing an Extensive Profile
The more information you share about yourself, the easier it is for a criminal to gather the necessary data needed to compromise your identity. It's wise to refrain from including your hometown, date of birth and full name, because those are facts that can easily lead others to access more information about you.
2. Divulging Details About Your Children
It's just as important -- if not more important -- that you don't share personal details such as full name and dates of birth about your children. This is hard to avoid in a day and age when birth announcements are posted online and each year's birthday celebrations are documented. Identity thieves have been known to target children, especially since their credit history is rarely checked. Thieves can go years before getting caught, and as a result, this can have a damaging effect on your child's future.
3. Be Careful About Life-Changing Status Updates
If you broadcast major life changes — like just losing your job — it's a major tip off to thieves to target your unemployment benefits, for example. Another common mishap: admitting that you haven't filed your taxes yet. A thief equipped with the right information could beat you to it, claiming and receiving your refund before you've even organized your tax documents into one folder. If you've just had a relative pass away and turn to social media to share the news, it's sad to say, but that's yet another target for identity thieves.
4. Posting Your Whereabouts
With today's updates that often include the date, time, and your location, it's easy for a thief to know you're 45 minutes away at the mall or at a concert where you'll likely stay for the next few hours. This can lead to home break-ins, car break-ins and the theft of credit cards and documents that include your personal information.
5. Being Lax About Your Privacy Settings
Privacy settings on social media sites change from time to time. It's important that you periodically evaluate your settings and make sure things are being shared the way you intend to share them. By unintentionally giving strangers access to your social media pages, you can increase your risk of becoming a target.