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Identity Fraud: 5 Ways Social Media Is Putting You At Risk

Today’s fraudsters aren’t knocking on your door trying to con you into giving out your personal information – they’re doing it from the comfort of their own homes! – and these days they don’t even have to go to the hassle of calling you on the phone. Access to the most private areas of your life are a mere click away thanks to the rise and rise of social media, and with more people sharing their information online than ever before, it could only be a matter of time before you or someone you know becomes the victim of an online scammer.

But how exactly are these tech-savvy criminals hacking their way into our lives – and into our accounts? 

The answer is, more easily than you think…

Accepting Friend Requests From Strangers

When it comes to identity theft, scammers know that the more they know about a person, the easier it is to impersonate them – and they can find out A LOT about you from your social media profiles. The town you live in, where you went to school and when, the names of your friends and family, where you like to shop, eat, go on holiday….the list is endless, and if you’re one of those people who accepts friend requests from people you don’t personally know because you see they have a mutual friend in common, or go to the same gym, or also love Harry Potter and have a dog, you could be sharing that information with literally anyone. 

Our advice would be to only accept connections on social media that you genuinely know or trust.

Giving Out Too Much Information

Scammers don’t really have to go the trouble of trying to befriend you for information if they’re just after the basics – your name and date of birth are normally readily available at the very least on even the most private settings of some social media sites – and often that’s all that’s needed to make a good start on finding out more about you online and being able to buy things in your name. 

It probably wouldn’t take a lot searching through your profile to find out the name of any pets, or maybe your maiden name, which might not sound like a big deal, but could be huge if you are one of the thousands of people who use some variation of these details for any security passwords you may have. 

And let’s not forget that a picture says a thousand words – and those latest holiday pics are yelling, ‘I’m not at home!’ loud and clear! It wouldn’t take someone long to work out when you’ll be back and that at the moment your home is empty and just waiting to be burgled.

Not Checking Your Privacy Settings

I’ve already touched on this briefly, but not having your privacy settings set to be as secure as possible leaves you vulnerable to scammers. 

See to it that the only information you’re offering to potential fraudsters is a profile pic – ideally something generic, and a name – maybe just your first and middle names or a nickname that only friends would know you by, just to be sure. 

Giving Information To 3rd-Party Apps

Everytime you play Candy Crush or click on one of those links that will tell you which Disney princess you are based on your profile pic, you’ll likely be asked for permission to link with your profile. Most of the time you’re so desperate to find out if you’re Snow White or Belle that you just click ‘OK’ and carry on. But that could be a costly mistake.

Make sure that request is coming from a reputable company, and if it is still be sure to enter as little personal information as possible. 

Using The Same Password For All Your Social Media Platforms

I know that it’s enough of a struggle remembering everything you’ve got to do at work, keeping on top of stuff at home, and still remembering what day the bins go out and that you have to feed the kids, BUT, using the same password for EVERYTHING, because it’s ‘easier’, really could be a time-saving device that will come back to bite you in the proverbial. 

Companies don’t insist on you having a password of over 14 characters including two capital letters, a number, and a partridge in a pear tree for fun you know! It’s to try and combat these criminals who are out there trying to access your information. Using the same password for everything from social media to your online banking isn’t unusual – and scammers know this, so chances are once they’ve cracked the password to one of your accounts, they’re going to try their luck with all the others too.

I know it’s a bit of a faff, but trust me, it’s better to have a different password for each account – if remembering them isn’t your strong point have them written down somewhere – preferably NOT on your phone – because if that’s stolen the thief gets an extra treat in the form of all your passwords! 

If you’re concerned about how secure your business information is. Please contact us for a social media review.