Because of the increasing sophistication of technology and social media, protecting oneself from the threat of fraud and identity theft seems a more complicated task as well. Before, identity theft was all about personal information such as credit card and social security numbers, but now, it also includes email addresses and mobile numbers. That’s why a lot of people are now asking: How can we avoid becoming victims?
In 2011, around 12 million Americans were victimized by identity thieves. This was a 13% increase as compared to the instances of identity theft in 2010. This was all because of the increase in the use of social media websites along with the use of mobile devices to access these websites.
While many consumers worry about having their credit information stolen, did you know that criminals can steal your business’s identity as well just by using social media websites? Yes, social media is a goldmine to criminals because people are likely to enter their employment and business information in social networking sites making them prone to id theft and business identity fraud. Moreover, social networking sites have become the new venue for phishing and spam messages that aim to steal your personal information such as your usernames and passwords on various business- or employment-related sites.
Criminals also resort to social media identity theft to look for personal details about their victims that they can use to figure out passwords using the challenge questions option in their email and other similar accounts. This information can be the name of your spouse, the place where you were born, or the name of your high school. Before you know it you could have discrepancies in your credit report, transactions you did not engage in, and benefits claimed using your identity, without your knowledge, or other signs of id theft can start showing up.
How do I protect my business’s identity when using social media websites?
Although social media is the new target for identity thieves, this does not mean that using social media websites is bad. It only means that you should start being careful when logging in to such websites to secure your personal and your business’s identity. In order for you to do just that, here are some useful tips that may help.
1. Tweak your privacy settings.
Social media websites usually have options where you can change your privacy settings. Here, you can change who can see your profile and set it to “friends only”. Other security options enable you to change what information you can display to people who are not yet connected to you. That way, strangers will not get a glimpse of your personal information.
2. Don’t put in everything.
Some social media website users go all out and put everything on their online profiles such as their work, their mobile numbers, date of birth, and their email addresses. Don’t forget that your birthdate is one of the essential keys to your identity. Also, it’s kind of pointless to exclude your birth year if you put in all your educational background such as what year you started college.
3. Be careful with links.
Social networking sites are often targets of phishing and spam. So, when you receive suspicious links to videos or pictures, it’s better to just refrain from clicking. If you are really that curious, you can contact your friend who sent you the link using other means such as phone or email and ask if the link they sent is legitimate.
4. Change your password every once in a while.
Try to change your password every six months at least. This will protect you from potential data breaches. Also, avoid using a single password for all your accounts. This can be very dangerous as criminals can gain access to all your accounts just by figuring out your password in one of them.
5. Monitor your credit.
This can be very important for those in businesses or employees because identity thieves usually go for identities with a strong business affiliation. Monitoring your credit by checking your credit report regularly or by considering credit monitoring services can help you see if there is something suspicious going on with your accounts. Not only can it help you detect id theft but it can also help you avert further damage. This is important for another reason, with the new red flag rules if you are a business owner you may have obligations to protect your customers as well. If your business is breached because of social networking mistakes on you or your employee’s part, your liability could be an issue.
With all the sophistication of communication technology these days, it doesn’t hurt to take some time for a little education. Know what you can do to prevent online id theft from getting your business identity stolen while enjoying the spoils of social networking.