lthough it’s a great way to catch up with former co-workers and old college buddies, social-networking sites can also be the easiest way for users to become victims of identity theft.
NationalCreditReport.com, a credit-report, credit-score and credit-monitoring service, says consumers should think twice before sharing personal information on Facebook, Twitter or other social-networking sites.
“Social-media sites contain a treasure trove of information for identity thieves,” says Samuel S. Ambrose, NationalCreditReport.com’s vice president of marketing and operations. “We’ve all put information on these sites … But people are learning now more than ever that this practice can leave them vulnerable to possible ID theft from social networking.”
Ambrose recommends that site users choose their “friends” carefully. The most important way to prevent ID theft is to not allow people you don’t know have access to your information, either as a “friend” or “follower.”
Ambrose also suggests that people think twice before offering up too much information to the public.
“Full birthdates, favorite movies, mother’s maiden names, etc., are all information points that other institutions use to help verify your identity,” he explains. “Posting this information online can allow you to fall victim of someone committing ID theft from social networking.”
Ambrose also advises users to review the site’s privacy settings regularly. Many sites have recently enhanced their security, which is put in place to protect you and your identity.
And when your identity has been compromised, NationalCreditReport.com recommends that users participate in a credit-monitoring service.
“While a credit-monitoring service can’t stop ID theft from social networking, it’s a cost-effective way to be proactive and stay informed as soon as there is new activity on your credit file," Ambrose says.