Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn – it’s hard to find a person that isn’t signed up to a social networking site these days. Although these sites can be a great way of staying connected to people and expressing yourself online, the personal information that you give out on these sites can leave you open to fraud.
In light of some of the recent high-profile data breaches, safeguarding your personal information is more important than ever, so follow our top tips to make sure your information is protected.
When setting up your profile on social media, you probably didn’t think twice about including your personal information. Although details such as your name, date of birth and where you live can seem fine to put onto social sites, they can be used by fraudsters to help build up a profile of you, so try to limit how much information you give out.
The same goes for sharing references to your favourite sports team, or your loved ones such as your kids and pets. If they feature heavily on your profile, it’s probably not a good idea to reference them in your passwords or security questions. The question “what is your mother’s maiden name?” is used frequently, so avoid picking this if it would be easy to find out this information from a glance at your profile.
Who has access?
If you really think about it, you could probably count the number of people that you interact with on social media on your hands, so what about all of your other contacts? Do you want Debra your old high-school friend or John an old work colleague to have access to this personal information?
Having a periodic clear out of the friends or followers on your social media account can be a great way of ensuring that only the people that you trust have access to this information. You don’t necessarily have to block or delete people – just change your settings to limit their access to your profile.
You shouldn’t leave your information accessible to the general public either, so make sure to set your profile page to private so that only your friends have access to your full profile.
You may think that this is obvious, but don’t take pictures of a new driver’s licence, credit card or bill and put this up on social media. You’ll not only reveal personal information such as your name and address by doing this, but sensitive information such as your account number as well. Fraudsters won’t be able to use this information alone to gain access to your finances, but they’re halfway there with it!
Likewise you shouldn’t take a picture of an upcoming concert or theatre ticket – these can be easily copied to have a cloned barcode.
On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram you have the option to reveal the location of your posts through geo-tagging – be this through a status, video or photo. These tags can be as specific as your exact address or a general location. But if you were to do this near or at your home, it’d be easy to work out your home address. As a person’s address is often used to verify their identity by various companies, this information could help a fraudster hack into an account of yours.
And if it’s obvious you’re posting from on holiday, a potential burglar could take the opportunity to break into your empty home. You can disable the location tagging on a photo on your phone, so be sure to do this when going away.
So there you have it – we hope this guide has been useful in helping you understand what not to share on social media. For more information on protecting yourself online, read our detailed guide.
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