Consumers have to take responsibility for protecting their personal information if they want to prevent identity theft. The movie “Identity Thief” illustrates just how easily an experienced identity thief can obtain personal information —full name, date of birth and Social Security number, from an unsuspecting victim. The outcome of identity theft in the movie and in real life can include everything from loss of credit, loss of a job and being jailed.
The Internet including social media, chat rooms, online subscriptions and online purchases all raise the risk to you, your family and children and even your business of becoming a victim of identity theft.
What information can be found on Facebook about you? Do you provide your full name and your date of birth on Facebook? Do you geotag your photos? Do you store your credit card information online? Do you share personal information with your Facebook friends--people that you don’t really know (strangers)?
Adam Levin, Chairman and cofounder of Credit.com and former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit, has seven tips to protect your privacy on Facebook, which will decrease your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
1. Don’t use your full given name
2. Don’t geotag your photos
3. Don’t reveal your true age
4. Don’t store credit card information
5. Don’t be an open book, have boundaries
6. Don’t provide personally identifiable information
7. Don’t have a Facebook account
Levin’s seventh point may be taken tongue-in-cheek. It is similar advice that I give those who are concerned that using a computer is going to put them at risk of identity theft. I tell them it they want to eliminate the risk completely, "Then keep it in the box!"
Surprisingly, more and more people are moving away from Facebook according to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project Study, but it isn't because of privacy, security or identity theft concerns. Of the 61% of the users that have taken a break from Facebook, 50% of them did so because they were too busy, weren't interested, wasted time, and were turned off by the drama, gossip, negativity and conflict. Only 4% said they did so because of concerns about privacy, security, ads and spam.
There many things we can do as consumers to decrease our risk of identity theft through when using the Internet. Levin provides six valid points that all Facebook users should put into practice on any social media sites they use.
Read Levin’s complete article, “7 Ways to protect your privacy before Facebook gets hacked,” with discussion on each of the seven points and the overall risks we face by using Facebook.