How do I avoid identity theft on social media sites?

Chances are, not everyone on your social media site is someone you’d trust with your house key, your credit card or your PIN number.

Yet when you share your personal information, photos and travel plans on social media sites, you may be putting yourself at risk and giving someone the keys to steal your identity.

Social media sites are more popular than ever. In fact with over 750 million users, Facebook’s population would make it the third largest country, right after China and India. As these sites become more popular, so do attempts on stealing personal information.

The credit bureau Experian reports that social networking provides a new venue for old frauds including phishing scams, quizzes designed to gather personal information, and malware via e-mail and apps.1

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Are you sharing the answers to security questions online?

How easy is it for thieves to get your personal information? According to experts, we post plenty of details that hackers, spammers and identity thieves could easily find answers to your security questions like date and place of birth, first pet’s name and details about family.

Avoid TMI (too much information).

Putting yourself at risk on social media sites can put your financial information, bank accounts and credit card information at risk as well.2 

  • Don’t post or share your e-mail address on a public profile.
  • Don’t share answers to common security questions like: mother’s maiden name, high school, graduation date or mascot, names of children or pets.
  • Be aware that hackers can find out personal information from quizzes you answer.
  • Be careful installing applications from sources you don’t trust.
  • Avoid checking in from your GPS or posting your travel plans.

Other tips to keep your information safe online.

Usernames and passwords are frequently recycled and reused among websites. A breach in security on another website that reveals user information can be turned around and used against card issuers’ online account portals.

Don’t use the same user name and/or passwords on social media sites that you do on your credit card or bank sites.

Use passwords that are composed of a string of seemingly random numbers and letters, 9 to 11 characters in length and not obviously connected to your life and easily guessed (like a birthday or child’s name, or even worse;your Social Security or phone number!)

If you suspect a social media site has had a data breach, monitor your credit card and bank accounts for fraud more frequently and consider placing a fraud alert with the  credit bureaus.

A credit card or financial institution social media page is not the place to share confidential account information or post your phone number asking for help. If you need help that involves sharing your personal information, call the company’s toll-free number.

Install (and update) antivirus, anti-spyware, or a firewall software on your computer and password protect your smartphone.

Don’t use public, unencrypted Wi-Fi to manage your credit card or bank accounts.

1 http://www.experian.com/data-breach/newsletters/social-networks-snare-students.html

2 http://www.experian.com/data-breach/newsletters/social-networks-snare-students.html

Discover card believes that consumers should be armed with the information they need to help them make informed credit decisions.

Legal Disclaimer: The articles and information provided herein are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

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