Identity theft affects millions of people every year according to recent studies. It affects people in various ways, mostly leading to huge financial losses. One of the most common types of identity theft is the social media identity theft involving theft through social networking.
1. What is Social Media Identity Theft?
Social networking websites have millions of users enabling them to come close and share information with one another. To join these websites, they require you to enter some of your basic details. They allow you to connect with your family and friends by making communication very user-friendly.
All this makes them very popular among the users. But, this popularity is what makes them more dangerous for the users as criminals use them to commit crimes such as identity theft.
The revenue generated on social networking websites is based on the personal information entered by their users. They encourage their users to enter more and more of their personal information. Due to lack of knowledge about protecting themselves on these websites and exposure of confidential information, several users fall for identity theft related crimes.
With the increased usage of social media in our daily lives, the opportunities for criminals to commit crimes have increased significantly. There has been an increase in identity theft as well.
Let us consider an example: If you are one of those persons who posts every time going somewhere. If you post that you are going out of town on social networking websites, then you are giving an open invitation to thieves. The thieves can not only steal your valuable possessions from your home, but they can also steal your personal documents to steal your identity.
An identity theft scam involving Facebook happened in 2012. The scam was committed as an attempt to steal financial information of its users. The identity thieves hacked accounts of several users by giving them fake warnings that their accounts were not secure. They sent fake links to the users asking them to enter their login information and credit card information to safeguard their account.
Another scam involved Twitter which revealed that around 250,000 usernames, passwords, and email addresses were hacked by criminals.
3. How Identity Theft Happen through Social Networking Websites?
There are several unknown sources that can hack Facebook profiles. These are fake and are not reviewed by the Facebook authorities. These profiles can be used for various fraudulent purposes such as identity theft, etc. There are various other ways in which identity theft can happen to you. These are:
• Accepting requests of people you don’t know.
• Having no privacy settings or very low privacy settings in your social media account.
• Sharing your login details along with password with your family members or friends.
• Clicking unknown links shared by unknown pages or even your friends.
• Responding to unknown emails asking you to update your social media profile.
• Sharing your location when posting an update on your profile.
• Downloading applications of these social media websites which access your information such as email address, location, contacts, etc.
• Not using any anti-virus on your device.
• Accepting requests to play quizzes which require you to enter your confidential information.
4. How can you protect yourself?
Now, don’t deactivate your social media account just because of what all you read above. Everyone loves to use social networking websites and connect with their loved ones. There are various ways through which you can protect yourself from identity theft. Use your social media account smartly and you can enjoy the perks of social media without worrying about becoming the victim of identity theft.
Take the following precautionary measures to avoid social media identity theft:
• Try to include only the necessary information while registering on these sites. Use the least amount of information. Never include your phone number, address, Social Security Number (SSN), driver’s license number and other important information.
• Use very strong passwords and update them regularly. Never share them with anyone.
• Always ensure the privacy settings of your profile are set to the highest level. Never use default settings. These settings are not fully secure.
• Add only those people whom you know and trust.
• Never post information about where you are going and where are you right now.
• Install an anti-virus software on your device and setup a firewall in your house and office.
• While setting answers of password security questions, don’t use answers which are obvious, rather use some unique and random answer.
People need to remain alerted these days when using their social media accounts. You need to have adequate knowledge about using these websites so as to prevent yourself from becoming identity theft victim. If you have doubt about adding, opening, sharing, downloading anything, don’t do it. Either verify it or report it spam. If people take adequate measures to protect themselves while using these websites, they not only can protect themselves but can also enjoy the benefits of this technology.