From reconnecting with an old friend from school, to hearing about a friend’s job promotion, to viewing photos of a colleague’s new baby – social media has made it easy for consumers to share exciting news or just let their social media circles of friends know where they are getting their morning coffee.
Unfortunately, along with this sharing comes the opportunity for thieves to use the personal information to steal one’s identity.
A recent study from TransUnion found that while many consumers were worried about having their identity stolen from a social media site, more than one third of respondents also included their personal information – birth date, address, employer, and phone number - in their profiles. This information could lead to identity theft.
“While social media is a great way for individuals to connect with others and exchange ideas, consumers should be careful what personal information they include in their profiles”, said Tersia van Rooyen, manager at TransUnion responsible for consumer education.
“Remember that the general rules of connecting and engaging with someone online remain the same in social media as they do everywhere—use common sense when giving someone else information about yourself or others.”
TransUnion provides the following tips to help social media users better safeguard their identity:
- Less is More: Avoid giving out personal information on social media sites, such as address, phone number or your birth date. Identity thieves can open accounts and commit a number of financial crimes with just this information.
- Do Not Leave a Trail of Cookies: Do not save your password when you are on a public or work computer. Some social media sites automatically check this box under your sign in, so make sure it is never saved. If it saves, it may automatically bring up your account the next time someone else goes to that social media site.
- Lock It Up: Change your privacy settings on all your social media accounts, so that you have control of all the information that is posted. Set your profile to private, and make sure you have to approve any friend requests, comments, photo tags, links or posts that appear on your page.
- Get Creative: Create intricate passwords when you sign up for social media accounts. Change your passwords to social media accounts every one to three months.
- Do Not Over-Share: Never give out your travel plans over social media sites. In many instances, social media thieves have become actual thieves, taking this data and using it to rob people when they are out of town.
- Home School Kids on Social Media: Go through these social media guidelines with your children. Although many young people are more adept at navigating the Internet, they may not fully understand the implications of posting private information, photos or potentially offensive material on the Internet.
- Monitor Your Credit: Make sure you periodically check your credit report for accuracy or changes and consider signing up for a credit monitoring service, which can alert you by email to changes in your credit report – a helpful way to prevent identity theft.
As a global leader in information and risk management, TransUnion creates advantages for millions of people around the world by gathering, analyzing and delivering information. For businesses, TransUnion helps improve efficiency, manage risk, reduce costs and increase revenue by delivering high quality data, and integrating advanced analytics and enhanced decision-making capabilities. For consumers, TransUnion provides the tools, resources and education to help manage their credit health and achieve their financial goals. Through these and other efforts, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies worldwide. TransUnion reaches businesses and consumers in 32 countries around the world. Based in Johannesburg, with global headquarters located in Chicago in the US, TransUnion is one of Africa's oldest credit bureaus. Visit www.transunion.co.za orwww.mytransunion.co.za for more information.
The following useful and informative videos are available for download :
• How do I protect myself from identity theft and fraud?
• How can I achieve healthier credit?
• How do I correct something on my credit report?
• How do I get myself out of debt?
• Credit problems could hurt your job prospects.