One of the fastest growing crimes is identity theft. You can't completely protect yourself from identity theft, but it is possible to reduce the chances that you will be a victim. At the very least, you can make it difficult for identity thieves to find information that they can use to steal your identity.
You might be surprised at how much information is readily available on your social media profiles. While it's fun to be online, and interact with others through social media, it's also important to make sure that you are protecting yourself. The information publicly available on your profile can be used against you.
What Information are You Sharing Online?
Be aware of the information that you are sharing online. Check your social media profiles to see if what you share can result in an easier time of stealing your identity. Here is how some of the seemingly unimportant bits of information can compromise you:
- Birth date: One of the most common pieces of information that is used in establishing your identity is your birth date. Do you have the month, day, and year of your birth prominently listed?
- Graduation year: Perhaps you don't list the year of your birth. However, identity thieves can make an educated guess about that if you share your graduation information publicly.
- Names of people in your life: Your parents' names, kids' names, pets' names, and friends' names are all commonly used as security question answers, as well as passwords. Identity thieves can get a little extra information just by seeing who you mention, and who is important in your life.
- Hometown: Sometimes this is used as a security question answer, or a password.
- Address and phone number: This information publicly given through social media can provide identity thieves with more data they can use to pretend to be you.
- Information about your bank: Do you share the name of your bank online? If you talk about it in status updates and elsewhere, this makes it easy for potential fraudsters to hack into your account.
Think about the information you share about yourself. Your likes, dislikes, habits, and other information all form a basis that can be used later. And, of course, if you share your Social Insurance Number, you could really be in trouble. And, naturally, you shouldn't share bank account and credit card information online.
Keep It Private
When possible, if you are concerned about identity thieves using your information against you, make your accounts private. That way, only certain people can see information about you. Limit the potential damage to those who are your true friends, and you trust.
This means that you don't want to give access to just anyone. Don't accept “friend requests” on Facebook from people you don't know. Be careful about who you let see images, as well as contact information and status updates. It may seem a little paranoid, but these days you can't be too careful. Information is out there for the taking, and you need to make sure you aren't giving away something that can be used against you.