Be careful not to become a victim of identity theft while taking advantage of social sites such as Facebook and MySpace.
Are you one of the people who have recently become concerned about identity theft as a result of social networking websites? The likes of MySpace and Facebook leave users particularly vulnerable to fraud and other types of identity theft, especially if you have added personal details (such as your full name and date of birth) to your profile page. These details can easily be seen by anyone with access to your profile. Unless you have specifically set your profile to remain private, even people who have not been accepted as one of your “friends” can access your profile and see your details. Protecting yourself has never been more vital, but what are the best steps to take?
Keep your profile private
This is probably the most important step to take, as it means that only your friends can see your profile. MySpace has had the option to keep your full profile hidden for quite some time, but Facebook has recently opened up profiles to the search engines in a bid to get more traffic. Unless you have chosen to keep your profile hidden, anyone can type your name into Google and see your profile. If you have personal details on there, a fraudster doesn’t have to look very far to find a new victim.
Remove personal details
If your profile is currently displaying identifying details such as your address and date of birth, take them out. It’s a scary thought, but a potential fraudster doesn’t need to know huge amounts of information about you — he or she can apply for credit or a loan in your name with just your full name, address and date of birth. Details such as email addresses are a bonus to them. If you want to keep your birthday on display to remind forgetful friends (Facebook can remind you when a friend’s birthday is approaching), make sure that you leave off the year.
These are two of the main steps that you can take to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud. They may sound incredibly obvious, but there are many social networking users who simply aren’t aware of the threat.
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