Managing your online data

In today’s social world, we generate more data and share more online than ever before. While social sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be a great way to connect with friends and family, they’re also an opportunity for identity thieves to gather more personal data or lure you into sharing your confidential information.

We all know about the good side of social media – it’s fun, it can connect you with friends, it’s global – but it’s worth thinking about the negative side too. Your personal data can be obtained, your social profile can be readily viewed and data breeches happen. It's a fact that hackers target the companies that hold your personal data.

As concerning as this may seem, you can help minimise your data risks on social media by staying aware and vigilant. Here’s how:

  1. Evaluate your posts and the personal information you share online. Could it compromise your identity, cause you embarrassment in the future, or reveal that you’re away from your home or on holiday? If so, why share it? Don’t give identity thieves the opportunity to strike.
  2. Don’t give out any personal, private information online. This includes telephone numbers, address details, bank or credit accounts – anything that could be manipulated and lead to identity theft.
  3. Beware of phishing. If you receive any requests for any of your personal information, i.e. account details, PINs or passwords, don’t respond.
  4. Use the privacy settings on social media sites. Make sure that you're happy with your social media settings and be aware of what information you are making publicly available online.
  5. Use varied and complicated passwords. Use passwords over eight letters long, using upper and lower case plus number and special characters if possible. Don’t use obvious words or number sequences (e.g. password 123) or any personal details.
  6. Stay ahead by monitoring your credit report regularly. If you spot any credit applications that you don’t recognise, you can take the necessary steps to query them.
  7. Monitor your social media information. There are services that help you scour the dark web for your personal information. They’ll let you know if they find any of your personal data on such websites.

Your Equifax Credit Report & Score provides you with access to your credit report, including any credit applications made in your name. Free for the first 30 days and £7.95 monthly thereafter, it includes WebDetect, which alerts you if we find your personal data on websites used by fraudsters.