Facebook has millions of Americans sharing their photos, favorite songs and details about their class reunions, but there are a handful of personal details that you should never share or post if you don’t want criminals — cyber or otherwise — to rob you blind.
Furthermore, many an ill-advised Facebook post can get your insurance cancelled or cause you to pay dramatically more for it: home, auto, fire, flood, life or other forms of insurance included. Almost everybody knows that drunken party photos can cost you a job; and now experts say debt collectors are switching from phone books to trolling social networking sites to find deadbeats.
You can certainly enjoy networking and sharing photos, but you should know that sharing some information puts you at risk. What should you never say on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site? Read on…
Your birth date and place. Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and the place you were born too, then you’ve just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life. A study by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — sometimes all — the numbers in your Social Security number.
Vacation plans. There’s no better way to say “Rob me, please” than posting your vacation countdown or your moment of departure or arrival at the airport. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like, but don’t invite criminals to your home by telling them “I’m not home!”
Home address. Great follow-up to the last item, eh? So many people do this though. A recent study by the Ponemon Institute found that social media users were at greater risk of physical and/or identity theft because of the information they shared. In fact, some 40% listed their home address; 65% didn’t even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings; and 60% said they weren’t confident that their “friends” were really the people they know, or even that they fully trusted them either way.
Confessionals. You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational drug user, but Facebook is not the place to let it all out. Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire and who to fire.
Need proof? Just last month alone there were two such cases. In the first case a prison guard at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in Ohio was fired after posting a threatening comment about the state governor; and in Winfield, West Virginia the mayor fired the local police chief after his son posted a disparaging comment about a teenager who had been struck by a train. Last year a NYC teacher was fired after posting a comment that she thought some of her school kids should drown. (A Manhattan judge recently ruled she should be given her job back).
A 2009 Proofpoint study showed that 8% of companies with over 1,000 employes had fired someone for “misuse” of social media.
Password clues. If you’ve got online accounts, you’ve probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your Mom’s maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song.
Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? Are you playing games where you and your friends “quiz” each other on the personal details of your lives? You’re giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.
Maybe it’s time to review your social media profiles?