Theft By Social Media: You May Be Sharing More Than You Think

Have you ever known someone who shares everything via social media?

You know the ones who tweet every move, post every feeling on Facebook and Instagram all their meals? Well, besides being incredibly annoying, this type of oversharing is becoming increasingly dangerous.

What you share tells a lot about you. Your posts are brimming with information concerning your likes, dislikes, hobbies, spending habits, travels and a host of other telling information.

Social media sites are smorgasbords for identity thieves.

Identity thieves go as far as creating fake profiles and masquerading as financial institutions and other legitimate businesses. They use this guise to lure site visitors into providing Social Security numbers, pertinent banking information and other important personal details. They establish relationships with their unsuspecting victims by pretending to have the same background, likes and dislikes and organizational ties. They do this to forge a relationship and lower inhibitions.

“They might claim to work at the same organization, to have attended the same school, or share similar interests and hobbies,” said Susan Boenau, manager of the FDIC’s Consumer Affairs Section. “They know that communicating a false sense of trust can be easy on social media.”

According FDIC financial crimes information specialist, Amber Holmes, the most valuable information to someone seeking to steal your identity includes:

Mother’s maiden name
Date or place of birth
High school mascot
Pet’s name

 She went on to say:

 “Fraud artists use social networking sites to gather this kind of information because it can help them guess passwords to online accounts or answers to ‘challenge questions’ that banks and other businesses frequently use for a second level of authentication beyond a password.  Someone who has your password and can successfully answer challenge questions may be able to access your accounts, transfer money, or even reset passwords to something they know and you don’t.”

The FDIC suggests the taking the following precautions:

Check security settings on social network sites
Take precautions when communicating with your bank—keeping in mind any posts could become public
Be careful about giving third-party programs permission to use information from your social networking pages

This information is so valuable that even the federal government, scientists and law enforcement agencies have begun quietly harvesting information shared on social media. They use this information to circumvent terrorism, prevent potential crimes and predict and contain health epidemics.

Your information is incredibly valuable to a lot of different entities for a variety of reasons.

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Author Profile: Consumer Expert Denise Hill

Denise is currently a writer and editor for a federal agency in Washington, DC. She is an open-minded free spirit always ready for new adventures. She enjoys traveling and relishes being exposed to alternate points of view. Faith, family and finances are the core of her value system. She follows her own path and marches to her own beat. She is a dream chaser and with her husband and best friend by her side, she plans to take over the world.

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