Lax Privacy Settings on Facebook Can Lead to Identity Theft

thief with laptop

Privacy settings on Facebook® are notorious for changing all the time. Oftentimes, you don’t even know that what was once private is now public. And that can have serious consequences when it comes to identity theft, one of today’s fastest growing crimes. Identity theft can involve everything from stealing your credit or debit card information, filing a false tax return in your name, falsely applying for government benefits in your name and more.

That’s because most social media users reveal a lot of information about themselves online. And lax privacy settings can give identity thieves information about everything from the credit card company you “like” to the stores you visit to the place where you work. The crumbs you reveal make it easier for identity thieves to guess your passwords, target you with spam emails and more.

It’s important to know how privacy settings on Facebook® and other social media sites work. It’s also important to consider who has full access to what you’re putting out there.

8 tips to protect your identity beyond changing your privacy settings on Facebook®

Maybe you already set your privacy settings on Facebook® and the other social media sites you use. Even still, it’s not easy to stay on top of ever-changing privacy settings on Facebook®, Twitter, Instagram and more. For that reason, it’s best to keep a few more tips in mind.

1. Set a strong password—and keep it to yourself. A strong password has upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters. It should not refer to anything personal like your mother’s maiden name or the name of your pet. Never share your password—and make sure to use different passwords for each social media site you use.

2. Think before you post. Don’t reveal personal information like your phone number, address or Social Security number. Even if your settings are private, people in your network can easily share your information with people who aren’t in it.

3. Opt for https. “Https” means the site is encrypted, which is a much safer option than the unencrypted “http.” Twitter and Google+ are encrypted by default; for the other sites, you have the option to manually encrypt to “https” via your account settings.

4. Be very wary of emails from social media sites. It’s easy for identity thieves to create fake emails. If you get a message from your social media network, it’s best to log into the site and check for the message in your notifications.

5. Refrain from accepting friend requests from people you don’t know. This is the easiest and most straightforward way for identity thieves to get past your security settings.

6. Think twice about taking quizzes. Some quizzes require you to divulge personal information that’s best kept private.

7. Watch out for bogus links. Spammers can pose as friends and post malicious links on your account. If a friend or family member posts something even slightly suspicious, hold off on checking it out. Instead, personally ask them if they posted that message before you click anything.

8. Give apps a second thought. Third-party apps like games often gain full access to all the information in your account. Vet any apps you download—ideally, they should come from trusted sites that are well-known. No longer using the app? Then make sure to uninstall it.

Another way to protect yourself is with identity recovery insurance coverage. It provides services to help you restore your good name if someone steals your identity. Talk to a professional like an Erie Insurance Agent to learn more about this important (and affordable) coverage.

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