Today’s Dallas Morning News has a good article about how to safeguard your confidential information while using Internet social networking Web sites. Here are excerpts:
The next source of identity theft may be social networking Web sites.
Thieves are constantly searching for new ways to get you to divulge any sliver of personal information so they can tap into your wallet.
For example, most of us use facts associated with our lives as user words or passwords, and thieves are learning they can mine these facts from social networking sites.
Social networking sites enable people to freely express themselves in a way that may cause them to unwittingly drop morsels of information that criminals can extract to steal their identity.
Here’s how it might work:
Your profile says that you live in Texas, you were born in Dallas, your beloved pet’s name is Max and that you like to spend time with your parents, Dick and Jane.
It also says that today you’re venting your anger at your bank – Bank XYZ – because it’s been slow to resolve a problem with your account.
Now criminals know the name of your bank, the name of your pet and your mother’s name. They will seek to learn your mother’s maiden name, which is often used as a security question on bank Web sites.
Here are some tips to protect yourself online. You’ve heard them before, but they’re particularly important for social networking sites because the information you post can be accessed by others:
- Never post sensitive personal data, such as your Social Security number, driver’s license number and bank account numbers. That includes your hometown, mother’s maiden name, your date of birth, your high school, the hospital or city in which your were born and your favorite color.
- Avoid telling everyone your physical location and what you’re doing at the very moment, especially if you’re away from home. That’s an invitation for someone to burglarize your home.
- Manage privacy controls on social networks. Set your profile to “Private” to prevent uninvited people from viewing your personal information.
- Don’t make your password easy to guess.
- Only allow people you know to view your personal profile. Be careful about allowing strangers to view your profile because people aren’t always who they say they are.