Social media is a fun way of engaging others and keeping in touch with friends and associates. However, social media users can be exposed to scammers who take advantage of information sharing to steal sensitive personal data.
Research indicates that active social media users are 30% more vulnerable to identity theft than infrequent users. Users of leading social networks such as Instagram and Facebook are the most exposed, with a 46% higher risk. What’s more, incidences of identity theft are on the rise, with a recent report indicating that 5% of us consumers were victims of identity theft in 2019.
Common Scams on Social Media
Social media is a fertile ground for scammers, but it is hard to recognize social media scams because they are always changing to take advantage of new trends. Recent FTC reports indicate that scammers have shifted to covid-19 related information to target social media users.
They may use fraudulent accounts to pose as government agencies and post false vaccine information or fake employment opportunities. The scammers then convince unsuspecting users to share contacts or other personal details.
Impersonation: hackers may message friends of compromised accounts asking for favors. They may want to know about their whereabouts or other personal details they can use to commit a crime. Others claim that they are in trouble request that you send them money.
Business opportunities: this is an old trick, but people still fall for it. Typically, scammers invite you to participate in a lucrative venture but request you to provide credit card details so that they can send the starter pack. They may withdraw funds from your accounts or use the details to commit identity fraud.
Quizzes: scammers post quizzes that appear to be innocuous fun games but ask important details such as your street, name of pet, or childhood home. The aim is to obtain sensitive information because old-generation password systems used such details to secure accounts.
How to Protect Your Identity on Social Media
Don’t Share Personal Information
Research shows the majority of social media users share post personal details such as birthdays, phone numbers, and pet names on their profiles. It is much safer to provide generalized information on social media and ignore options that may be too revealing.
Update Privacy Settings
Go to the privacy settings of your Facebook or Twitter account and make sure all sensitive information such as workplace and birthday is private. This will protect your identity on social media and prevent strangers from accessing information that can facilitate fraud.
Avoid Tagging Your Specific Location
The location tag may be a cool way of updating friends about your whereabouts but also exposes you to malicious followers. For instance, burglars will have a much easier time planning a break-in if they know you are 100 miles away from home.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
It is tempting to accept every friend request, but some are from malicious actors. Take time to study the profiles of new friend requests before accepting them.
Use Strong Passwords
The password is the key to your account and should be strong enough to evade casual hacking attempts. Strengthen your password by combining numbers, characters, and letters in a randomized manner.
Log Out When Leaving
Always log out when leaving social media, even if you are still using the computer for other activities. Logging out is especially important for public computers because hackers can use open accounts to collect personal information.
Use Internet Security Software
Internet security software protects you while surfing the web. Antivirus software detects and removes malware and prevents you from opening or downloading malware.
Social media is great for networking but can expose you to identity theft if you are not careful. You can protect yourself by sharing only general information and being vigilant against suspicious activity. PeopleFinders is glad to help you have a positive social media experience. Contact us for more tips on how you can find people and network with them safely and responsibly.