Nearly 80% of online Americans are using social media. And with the creation and usage of new social platforms, many of us are sharing more of our personal life and details than ever before. Unfortunately not all the recipients of our posts and updates should be trusted. Due to the sharing of personal information, social media users are more likely to be the victims of fraud. How can you stay safe?
Limit your “friends.”
Savvy fraudsters are creating fake social media profiles with demographics that match the “friends” that they send connection requests to. By becoming your friend, they’re hoping to have access to personal information, like when you’ll be out of town on vacation (more on sharing that kind of stuff later.)
Be sure you actually know the person before you accept their request to friend or follow you. These fake profiles will often be a similar age as you, live in the same area and may even have a few mutual friends. Don’t accept requests from anyone you haven’t met or aren’t aware of.
If you’ve used social media for a while, go through your list of friends or followers and delete or un-friend anyone that you don’t know.
It’s tempting to share all about your exciting vacation on Facebook or Instagram, but that type of information can easily end up in the wrong hands. Letting your community know that you’re in Hawaii for a week also means telling them that your home is open and you won’t be around to check on things. If you can’t resist sharing, then try to wait until you’re back to post.
Adjust privacy settings.
Facebook allows for a lot of customization as to who can access and view your information. Take advantage of that. Be sure to review the “Settings” tab and take a look at what you’re putting out there and who can see it.
Remove personal information.
It may be fun to get birthday greetings on your wall, but your date of birth is also a sensitive piece of personal information. Think about it this way…What information do you need about a person in order to use their identity to open an account or take out a credit card in their name? The victim’s name, where they’re from, a phone number, date of birth, and an email address are all pretty good starts for an identity thief. Additionally, many online security questions are related to where you’re from, where you went to high school, or who your best friend is - answers that can often be found simply by visiting someone’s Facebook page.
For safer social media practicing, remove as much personal information from your profile as you can.
Refrain from life-changing status updates.
Social media is a great way to let people know you’ve moved, or receive comfort and advice if you’ve lost your job. Unfortunately, it’s also a good way for fraudsters to get ideas about how they can fool you. For example, if you’ve recently lost your job, you’re tipping off scammers to target your unemployment benefits. Or if you share that you haven’t filed your taxes yet, then someone could try to get to it before you do.
Keeping your kids safe.
Children are increasingly becoming the victims of social media. Since kids often don’t need to check their credit score for years, thieves are able to use their information for a long time before the victim’s aware, which could have a damaging effect your child’s financial future. If you want to share photos of your child’s birthday party, consider waiting a month or two and not posting their specific date of birth.
Interested in more ways to keep your personal information safe? Washington Federal now offers IDProtect, an identity theft monitoring service, as a standard part of our Green Checking. (Account requires $100 to open.) IDProtect includes credit file monitoring, 3-in-1 credit report, identity theft expense reimbursement coverage and resolution services. IDProtect also includes total identity monitoring of more than 1,000 databases for your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. You’ll get daily monitoring of your credit files with alerts via email, and text (if activated).
Click here to visit our Secure Checking Benefits page to find out more and read full disclosures Some benefits of IDProtect do require registration and activation, but all are available at no extra cost to our Green Checking account owners.