The rise of social media like Facebook has made the world more closely connected than we had ever dreamed of, but this connectivity seems like a double-edged sword when you take the rise of identity theft into consideration. Although the idea of identity theft was not born with the rise of the internet, the current trend of sharing information via Facebook is making work that much simpler for identity thieves around the world.
There was a time when internet users hid themselves behind usernames, and giving your full name out was tantamount to inviting hackers and cybercriminals into your life. However, these days there are over 1 billion Facebook users, and as many as 93% of them share their full name with anyone looking at their profile. Other users may even share their personal phone numbers or home addresses by adding them to their Facebook profile and leaving security settings at a minimum.
Research has found that as much as 30% of Facebook users have no privacy settings on their account, this allows their information to be viewed by anyone, whether they are friends or not. This information can easily be used by identity thieves to get into bank accounts and credit cards, using shared data such as your full date of birth, your home town, and your middle name. Common security questions for password recovery can also be taken advantage of by accessing information on Facebook. Security questions like “What is your mother’s maiden name?” and “Where did you attend high school?” are often very easy for identity thieves to find out through Facebook.
When using the internet, try to be as aware as possible of what information you put out there, as well as how it can be used against you. Security experts recommend keeping a close eye on your Facebook privacy settings and using different passwords for different sites.