How can you avoid identity theft on social media sites?

Chances are, not everyone on your social media sites are people you’d trust with your house key, your credit or debit card or your PIN numbers.

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.

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.

Are you sharing the answers to security questions online?

How easy is it for thieves to get your personal information? Posting details publicly about family, friends and your private life can provide hackers, spammers and identity thieves information that could help them answer your security questions. Be mindful of what you post, and if you can, set your profiles to a private setting so that only people you know can see what you’re putting out there.

Avoid TMI (Too Much Information).

Sharing too much information about yourself or your family on social media sites could put your financial information, bank accounts and credit card information at risk. 

  • 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 protect your information online.

Usernames and passwords are frequently recycled and reused among websites. If you were a victim of a security breach on a website that released sensitive user information, it’s possible that hackers will leverage this information and attempt to gain access to your other accounts.

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

If you suspect a social media site has had a data breach, change your password, monitor your credit card and bank accounts for fraud more frequently and consider placing a fraud alert with the credit bureaus. You can also sign up to receive fraud alerts from your bank or credit card issuer.

A credit card or financial institution’s 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.

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

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.