PORTLAND, Ore. - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter - these social networking sites are all the rage. But what you share on the sites could put you at risk.
The people at ID Experts in Beaverton say many of us need to be more careful with what we post. Identity thieves are savvy enough to mine social networking sites for data, essentially putting together a puzzle of your identity.
I asked researcher Rebecca Seaman to evaluate my Facebook page and immediately she saw a red flag with basic details about a former colleague.
"If we have their first and last name, Atlanta, Georgia, and you happen to have one of these birthday reminders up for them, think about what we have now. We have their location, first and last name and their date of birth," she said.
Seaman also pointed out what could happen if that colleague happens to have her mother listed among her Facebook friends.
"And if they have their last name on there, then we have name, date of birth, maiden name and location. That's almost enough to open a credit card fraudulently."
And what about those status updates or the microblogging with Twitter that tells everybody what you're doing? For example, my friend shared things like "Off to Phoenix tomorrow for a conference... Love that 6:00am flight" and "Leave for the airport in four hours... have about six hours worth of work that must be done before I leave." Experts say that kind of information in the wrong hands is like a neon sign, saying 'I'm away for vacation or business - in case you'd like to harm my family or break into my home.'
"It shares a tremendous amount of information that can be used against you if someone is trying to perpetrate a crime," said Rick Kam, President of ID Experts.
It's a word of warning as you navigate the world of social networking.
So what can you do to keep your information safe? A local expert with Anvil Media has this advice about being smart with social networking:
- Avoid listing your birthdate, hometown or home address.
- Avoid posting your primary email address.
- Avoid posting the years you graduated from high school or college.
- Only invite people into your network that you know or who have met. Don't add friends of friends or total strangers.
For more information:
- What social media networks don't want you to know may hurt
- When social media leads to personality theft
- 5 dangers of social media
- Identity theft: Startup theft and startup opportunity
- Blog sense