However, we are not much aware of the fact that our pets name can be a scammers best friend. You may think you are not revealing much when you tell your Facebook friends that youre dressing your lovely puppy in your favourite colour. But youve actually opened a Pandoras box of risks.
The information consumers willingly, and often unwittingly, post on social-media websites can be a gold mine for fraudsters looking to steal everything from your flat-screen TV to your identity.
In addition, tidbits like your birth date, birthplace and the last school you attended are typically the challenge questions posed by bank websites and online retailers to verify your identity.
More than 24 million Americans 18 years old and older are still leaving their social-network profiles mostly public, meaning they aren't activating privacy controls that limit who can see their information online. A recent survey has also found that most adult Americans that frequently use social-networking sites include their birthplace--one of the most common security questions asked by financial institutions--on their profiles.
Although users dont display all their private information, all the little pieces they reveal allow identity thieves gather them all together and get a clearer picture of the victim theyre preying on.
Say you post on a social-media site that you're at a tanning salon ahead of your week-long trip to the Bahamas the day after your birthday. You're telling potential burglars that not only are you away from home for an hour or so, but beginning Tuesday, your home likely will be empty for seven days.
"Even listing daily activities can let strangers know your routine and put you at risk,".
Too much information can hurt you in other ways. For instance, future or current employers could have a problem with information about your personal life that they deem inappropriate for a member of their staff. You also could be furnishing a would-be stalker with information about your whereabouts.
Tips To Stay Safe on Facebook and Other Social Networking Sites
- Never post your exact date and place of birth. It's invaluable information to identity thieves, particularly when the two are bundled together.
- Never post your address, phone number or email address. This is plum information to scammers and marketers who are looking for nuggets of your identity.
- Control who can see your personal information.
- Limit information about your activities. If you must brag about a trip or a fabulous party, do it after the fact.
- Remember that what you post is public and permanent. Don't put up embarrassing photos that you wouldn't show your grandmother. Don't complain about your job or your boss. Don't say something to or about someone that you wouldn't say to his face. Don't threaten others.
- Know the four types of Facebook users: friends, outsiders, businesses and enemies.