Protecting Your Identity in Social Networking Sites – Part 1

Social networking sites have millions of active users and the numbers are increasing everyday. With the increasing number of members, most social networking sites have become favorite places for identity thieves to perpetuate their crime and perform a lot of identity theft related crimes.

While these social networking sites offer fun and entertaining services, its users should still be wary of posting too much information about themselves. Here are some tips that will help you protect yourself against identity theft while you continue to connect with your friends and “write on their wall.”

Tip Number 1: You have to limit the amount of personal information that you post on your profile. In a recent survey, 27% of the respondents stated that they post their full name, date of birth, phone number and email address on their profiles. A smaller percentage of the respondents said that they do post their physical address on the profile, while others more posts their wife’s/husband/significant other’s name on their profile. Such information are very crucial that in the hands of identity thieves, they can be used to perpetrate various forms of identity theft.

Here is a clear example: If I am an identity thief and I have your home address and phone number, I can use these information to file for a change of address form in the United States Postal service and I will have all your mail forwarded to an address of my choice. This way, I will be able to get hold of your credit card bills, bank statements and other pertinent documents that comes in your mail and use them to perpetuate more crimes, or commit financial fraud under your name.

Since most people use personal information in their usernames and passwords, I can use your personal information to hack into your online accounts because the information that you provided in your profile is enough to tip me off on your possible usernames and passwords. All I need is a little time and patience and I am sure that I can immediately hack it out. Once I have access to your online account-email, credit card and any other digital identities that you have-I can do more damage than you can think of. I can make huge purchases online when I have your credit card number and I can make bank transfers since I have your bank account statements.

It is therefore recommended that you limit the amount of personal information that you share in your profile. It is advisable that you do not post your full date of birth, phone number or physical address because if you simply want to connect with friends, they will most likely know this type of information about you. Also limit contextual information that you post like your mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, anniversary dates and other personal information that may be used by identity thieves to hack into your account.

Social networking sites are fun. Other than the fact that you can connect with your friends, it also features other functions like games and groups. While it is entertaining, it can also be very dangerous. So take the necessary steps as you go about browsing the entire social networking sites available online.