Social media, as wonderful a tool for connecting and communicating as it is, does have its dangers. Fortunately, these risks may be mitigated through careful deliberation and pragmatic posting habits, but only if you know what they are. What follows are some easy habits to encourage a heightened state of security both digitally and in the physical world.
- Share with Caution: There are some pieces of information that really have no business on a social network, as they could be used to the benefit of identity thieves. One really obvious example is the unique-to-the-individual Social Security Number, but it isn’t totally wise to share your home address or phone number, either. Birthday information and other personal details should only be shared if the site offers private profiles – but even then, think twice and be sure to triple-check your privacy settings frequently, and only add those who you know personally. If all a thief needs to verify that they are you is your date of birth or your dog’s name, you might be opening yourself up.
A side note: Even if you trust your privacy settings and your list of contacts, never post your address and/or a post sharing your agenda until after the fact. Announcing that your home will be empty on social media for a given amount of time is inviting criminal activity into your residence.
- Limit Employment Details Online: Sites like LinkedIn, while phenomenally helpful with professional networking, can also provide identity thieves with a blueprint of your life thus far to exploit. Unless actively seeking employment for a time, leave just enough to entice those who view your profile to contact you directly to seek more information. Take advantage of privacy settings on those sites as well.
- Do an Online Audit: The online world is vast. Your information could be in more places than you think. Friends and contacts of yours could post information about your real-time whereabouts that others could exploit, or your information could exist outside of the real-time social media sphere, in cached browsers and the like. Do a quick search for yourself online and remove anything you can. Google Street View will reveal details about your life that can easily implicate your financial situation, a quick request through their “Report a Problem” feature will solve that with a blurred image, rather than your home and belongings.
- Continue with a Social Audit: How well do you know all of your personal social media contacts? Would you welcome them into your home? Share intimate details about your life with them? Call them friends? If any of the corresponding answers are negative, these people probably don’t need access to your full account and information. Limit access to your info (with certain exceptions, if you must) or ideally remove people from your social media sphere.
Social media can be both a fun personal venture as well as a valuable professional networking resource, but like any other tool, it must be handled with care. For more information, tips, and best practices to apply to your social media habits, read more of our posts or call NTConnections at (703) 288-9767.