Every few months there are stories about criminals taking information from social media sites to commit some type of ‘identity theft’ crime. The majority of stories are not very specific about the impact, or the impact is in an area that would not concern many people. But what if someone can take out a credit card in your name? Which have proved this can be done using information gathered online. Once a card is taken out criminals can use it to run up debts that have a direct impact on your credit rating, making it harder to obtain business or personal loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is resolved.
To reduce the risk of this happening and other issues such as online accounts being taken over or phone contracts being taken out, review the information you share, who you share it with and sometimes enter false information. You should avoid sharing:
- Date of Birth – if one is required enter false details by changing the day and month or month and year
- Full Address – if an address is required then change some of the values
- National Insurance Number
- Bank Account Details
- Names of pets – this can be one of the questions if you have forgotten your password
- Where you were born – this can be one of the questions if you have forgotten your password
- Your first school – this can be one of the questions if you have forgotten your password
- Your mother’s maiden name – this can be one of the questions if you have forgotten your password
- Details of when you are on holiday – some criminals monitor social media to see when people will be away from their homes
- Photos showing your car number plate – this could be used to obtain your address from DVLA records
- Photos of your house – this could be used to confirm your address and give clues to your financial status
Only share information with people you know or consider trustworthy. When you get an invitation or connection request from someone you do not know, check them out before accepting it. I receive a few connection requests on LinkedIn reach month from people that have no details on their profile other than an impressive job title – these requests get deleted straight away If you really are the CEO of a company I expect details about what the company does, about you and your education and work history. Social media platforms can also change their security settings. Information that was only shared what people you know can suddenly become public. You should review the security settings in all your social media profiles a couple of times a year to check what is shared. Another way of doing this is to use a ‘private’ or ‘incognito’ window in your web browser and check out your profiles. If you see too much information, adjust your security settings.
If you are a victim of fraud report it to your bank or credit card provider and, in the UK, notify Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk.