Protect Your Identity with Smart Social Media Tactics

6 November 2015

Imagine you’re logging into an account you haven’t used in months. You know which email address you used to register the profile, but what did you use for a password? Ah-ha! You just had a light bulb moment.
“The username or password you entered is not correct. Please try again.”

Or so you thought. So you try again and again, just to be greeted by the same familiar message.

Just when you’re about to give up, you get a new message: “Forgot your password? Click here to answer a few security questions.”

A wave or relief washes over you, replacing your elevated heart rate with calm determination. Your dog’s name? Check. Name of your high school mascot? Check.

You’re in.

Now imagine the same scenario, but instead of you, there’s someone else trying to log into your account. With your social media profiles up in the next tab, they use the email address they found on your LinkedIn page to get started. After a few failed password attempts, they’re met with the same message, and same sense of relief, you were.

Your dog’s name? The identity thief takes a quick glance at your Instagram profile, which is of full of photos of you and Fido. Check. Name of your high school mascot? All it takes is one look at your Facebook profile and a quick internet search to see you were once a Bulldog. Check.

They’re in.

While we would never post our login credentials where anyone could access them, sharing our personal data with the public often serves the same purpose. As you can see above, failing to take control of our social media accounts’ privacy settings is like leaving a lock-picking kit next to our front door.

Identity thieves realize this, and often search through social media posts to find information they can use to “prove” they are their victim.

To protect yourself from identity theft online, therefore, it is crucial to limit the amount of information even the most determined potential fraudsters could get their hands on. A great first step is to set your profiles as “private” so only your friends or connections can see them. Then, be sure to stay diligent about only accepting friend or follow requests from people you know.

The safest practice, however, is to simply limit the amount of information you post online. This way, even if there is a lapse of security outside of your control, you can rest assured that no one had access to any information they could use to aid their identity theft efforts.

If an identity thief does get access to your accounts, it can take some time before you realize fraud has taken place. Signing up for a credit monitoring service can help you keep track of certain changes in your credit file that could indicate fraud.