Your social media profile and identity theft

Social media can be a fun and useful tool for staying connected with people you know. But just how safe is your personal information?

Social media played a part in record levels of identity fraud in 2016, according to fraud prevention service Cifas. Depending on how much you share online and what your privacy settings are, identity thieves could potentially extract personal information from social media profiles or posts in order to commit crimes.

These crimes could range from using your personal details to target you with scams, or to apply for credit, driver’s licences or passports. Someone might even potentially use your social media profile photo and location to impersonate you on dating websites.

What sort of information could be stolen from a social media profile?

The details that you can share on your social media profile vary according to the platform you’re using. A service like Facebook lets you share information ranging from your date of birth and educational history to your favourite music and films.

A site like Twitter, meanwhile, restricts the amount of information that you can share, but this can include personal data like your birthday and location. Meanwhile, a website like LinkedIn lets you share your entire CV if you wish, including the dates that you started and finished working at previous jobs.

Ways to secure your social media profile from identity thieves

  • Check to see if any types of information can be viewed by anyone with access to the site. For example, Facebook typically shows details including your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender to anyone who views your page. You may want to leave these fields blank if you can.
  • Check your privacy settings. If you want to share your personal information, ensure that your privacy settings are set so that only people you trust can view it, if possible.
  • Ensure that your social media connections are who they say they are. You may receive a request to link up from someone you know, but it could be a fraudster posing as them. Try to confirm their identity offline, if you can.

These are some ways to protect your social media profile from identity fraudsters. T For a wider range of ways to safeguard your identity on social media, read this article.

There are a number of ways that you can protect your social media profile to minimise your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. However, these methods do not guarantee that fraudsters will not get hold of your data, so you may want to monitor the situation. Your Equifax Credit Report & Score – free for the first 30 days then £14.95 monthly – alerts you if your financial details are shared on websites popularly used by fraudsters. In addition to that, it gives you unlimited access to your Equifax Credit Report, and sends you alerts within 24 hours if any changes are made to it. This allows you to check if any unauthorised activity has happened without your knowledge.

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