Millions of people are reconnecting with old school friends and keeping up with current friends on various social media networks such as Facebook and MySpace. It’s a fun and easy way to upload pictures for your friends and followers to see, or send a quick update on what you’re doing right at this moment. It all seems harmless until you realize that almost 10 million Americans were victims of identity fraud in 2008, which is over a 20 percent increase since 2007. With over 250 million personal data records breached since 2005, millions of people have been exposed to the ill effects that being a victim of identity theft can quickly have–all because personal information got into the wrong hands.
This is the bad news.
The good news is that there are ways you can still enjoy being a social media maven AND protect your privacy to avoid becoming an identity theft victim.
The Best Ways to Secure Your Identity from Stealers
There are several privacy options available to help protect your information from getting into the wrong hands. You should always avoid sharing personal contact information. Parents always warn us, “Don’t write down what you don’t want others to read.” This includes an address, birth date, social security number, etc.
· Categorize your friends. You can create groups to categorize your friends. This allows you to share certain updates with certain groups rather than anyone and everyone that lands on your page or is one of your “friends.”
· Be unsearchable. There are privacy settings such as “Friends Only” or “Network and Friends Only” that makes it possible for only your friends to view your page.
· De-Google. Social media sites are very search engine friendly, which means your information is ranked by the search engines. Uncheck the option to be indexed by the search engines in your privacy settings as added security.
· Don’t forget your albums. Even if you set your photos to be private, your albums may still be open to the public. So, don’t forget to set the privacy option on your albums too.
· Keep relationships private. There are two options here. You can control who sees basic information such as your relationship status or remove the newsfeed on items like this to avoid it being blasted out to your friends. Some sites allow you to share who you’re in a relationship with, which can put you and your partner at an even greater risk to identity theft.
· Visit wisely. These sites have thousands of applications users can use and visit. When you use these applications, it automatically updates your status on your page. Harmless: “Tim is playing Word Challenge.” Harmful: “Tim is having sex,” which occurs when you visit a certain section of Facebook that will go unnamed here.
· Privatize contact information. Private contact information should only be visible to people you trust. Organizing your contact lists to control whom sees this information adds further protection.
· Control friends’ actions. To avoid embarrassing, defaming, or personal information from being listed on your page, visit the profile page of the site and choose who can post on your page, or avoid allowing updates to show publicly at all.
· Make friends private. Exposing your friends can expose you too. Make your friendships private to have better control over who can access your personal information, which can help to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
· Don’t show your age. Thieves can track you with your birth date and year of birth. Keep your date public so your friends can express their best wishes but don’t post your year of birth.
Social media is fun and exciting. It allows you to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. It can also make you vulnerable to identity thieves, which takes all of the fun and games out of your social media networking. Practice safe social media by implementing these ten tips and continue to enjoy the benefits of this online phenomenon.
Identity Finder, LLC was founded in 2001 by innovative security experts. The company has quickly grown to become a leader in identity theft prevention by helping millions of consumers, small businesses, and enterprises in over fifty countries.
Identity Finder searches and secures personal information. Using the company’s proprietary AnyFind technology, Identity Finder intelligently locates social security numbers, credit card numbers, passwords, and other sensitive data inside documents, spreadsheets, e-mails, web browsers, and other system areas. Beyond identification, our technology helps securely shred or encrypt information. Install Identity Finder today to stay steps ahead of the criminals.