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Dangers of Posting Facts on Social Networking SitesData Security


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In the last decade, hackers have illegally accessed more than one billion consumer records. Sadly, many of us are making the job easier for them because of the way we use sites like Facebook and Twitter.

I’m Adam Levin and this is the Wall Street Journal Credit Minute

With such an enormous treasure trove of data in the hands of fraudsters and identity thieves, do you really need to provide additional personal information to them every day through social networking sites?

Four things you shouldn’t do on social networks:

  1. You shouldn’t post your full date of birth. Do you really need thousands of people you may or may not know sending birthday greetings every year referencing your new age? In the hands of an identity thief, a birthday is a powerful tool.
  2. You shouldn’t post your address. Often you don’t realize that posting a geo-tagged photograph or “selfie” with your home, new car or newest painting in the background, can pique the interest of a burglar or provide a crucial piece of personal information to an identity thief.
  3. You shouldn’t post travel plans. While it’s OK to notify your financial institutions and credit card companies of the dates of your departure and return, as well as where you’re going, you shouldn’t share your itinerary with potential stalkers, identity thieves and burglars. Better to post the memories than pre-announce or report travel exploits in real time.
  4. You shouldn’t mindlessly give up seemingly harmless pieces of personal information. People love online quizzes. And they are happy to share things like their favorite color, mother’s maiden name, first pet and the name of the street where they grew up. But all of these pieces of information are potential website security questions. To you they are disconnected fun facts, to a fraudster they are nuggets of gold.

Your identity is your asset. It’s a commodity to an identity thief. Protect it as if it were your currency, because it is.

I’m Adam Levin. Come to Credit.com and take control of your credit.

An audio version of this story was originally broadcast as part of The Credit Minute series on the Wall Street Journal Radio Network. Listen to it and more here.