3 Things Identity Thieves Hope You Post on Facebook

Emily Abbate
5

The new Facebook profile looks so much better with the more details you throw up on there. The site asks for your birthday, where you're from, where you went to school ... and there's even a row of recently tagged pictures. Of course you'll be very tempted to make them all viewable. It's a nice aesthetic. What was the point of having the pictures hidden before, anyway?

Oh right ... privacy. You probably never considered that posting pictures, your location, and birth year on Facebook could get your identity stolen. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, even your pet's name is every fraudster's BFFL.

But what now? When it's all hidden, it's no fun. Now I don't even like Facebook. I'm sure that no one's looking at my profile anyway. I bet if I just keep a few things I'll be fine, right?

Wrong. Forget social media sickness, what you post on the book may get you in a whole lot more trouble than that.

Exhibit A.: You love posting pictures of your beagle in his New Year's Eve outfit. You've gotten eight comments so far (and you only posted this morning)! How cute! Those ears!

But poster beware: How many websites is Sparky's name the answer to the security question? Your best beagle bargains may be the key to all things personal, and no precious photo upload is worth sacrificing your life savings.

So how can you and I be smart about our Facebook activity? Of course, there are a few easy safety precautions:

  • Make sure everything on your Facebook page is friends only: If you have "Friends of friends" allowed, then you're opening your page up to "outsiders, businesses, and enemies" according to the article.
  • Make sure to ask yourself a few questions before posting things on the site that reveal your exact address. Features on Facebook, including the places app, can alert followers that you are away from home -- and more importantly: Away from your belongings.
  • Keep things basic. If you're posting your hometown, then maybe skip out on posting your personal email address, or vice versa. Keeping things spotty will make it harder for hackers to crack your case.
  • Be alert for third party games, quizzes, and sites. Many of these additions make no promise not to share your personal information, including your picture. I was completely thrown off after logging into my Pandora account and seeing my Facebook picture on the main page. Check into the privacy settings of sites you use most often, and be aware of what you're releasing into the world.

You have to come to terms with what you're really "missing out" on. So what if you post one less mobile photo upload this month, or skip out on "checking in" to your local deli with friends on a Saturday? Yeah yeah yeah, slacking on Facebook may not be the "hip" thing to do, but then again, neither is finding out my bank account's empty. Yeah, that's definitely a lot worse.

Are you concerned about your privacy on Facebook?


Image via Asthma Helper/Flickr

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