Identity theft on Facebook
Experts in the field on identity theft are meeting at a symposium in the Gold Coast to talk about ways to cut back on the instances of identity theft that is quickly becoming a worldwide problem. There needs to be a crackdown on Facebook identity theft and identity fraud in general on an international basis.
Millions of people are using Facebook and other social networking websites without thinking twice about releasing their personal details. Thieves can randomly join one of these websites and track down information on people’s birth dates, family details, where they work and other personal information. This is like a gold mine for anyone that wants to get involved in identity theft.
There are even programs being developed so that stealing this type of information is faster and easier. This data is getting stored into huge databases and this is being warehoused for future use. People are literally feeding criminals information that can be use detrimentally. Awareness of this issue needs to be broadcast on a wider scale so that information given out on social sites is limited.
Experts from various different countries including the United States, the Netherlands and Romania will gather at this symposium to discuss different options available. Approximately $3 billion per year is lost in Australia due to identity theft, and there are ways to lower this amount if systems are put in place to combat the problem.
This figure may not even be an accurate representation of the actual amount of money that has been lost. According to Brian Hay, Detective Superintendent of the Queensland Fraud and Corporate Crime Group, many people will not report this type of crime due to embarrassment. After all, who wants to admit that they freely displayed their information on a social networking site and then had to pay the consequences?
When you work out the numbers, $3 million represents about $14 for every individual that lives in Australia. This is a growing concern for not only Australians but for any people worldwide that are part of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or any other social media site. The numbers are not only getting out of control in Australia. This is a global issue that is reaching epidemic proportions.
Identity theft is on the rise globally and this symposium may help cut back the numbers as solutions are put on the table and different options are explored. As the awareness level on this topic is heightened, more people will limit how much personal information they are willing to submit to the social sites, and Facebook in particular.
How can you protect yourself?
There are numerous ways you can protect yourself from identity thieves on Facebook and other social networking sites. These include:
- Adjust your Facebook privacy settings so you’re protected. You can adjust settings so only those you’re friends with can read your post, which reduces the chance that a thief will encounter your information, for example.
- Preview your page regularly. Facebook gives you the ability to view your profile just as someone from the public would view it. This is useful for helping you see what personal details you may be accidentally allow others to see.
- Set those who you don’t want looking at all of your profile information as ‘acquaintances’. This limits the amount of your profile they can see.
- Be careful about who you let become your friend. Ensure that you carefully decide who to accept and don’t accept anyone you don’t know, or who looks suspicious.
- Use an identity monitoring service such as Secure Sentinel. This will pay you a benefit to cover the costs of restoring your identity if it’s stolen, and also monitors black market websites to see if criminals are trading your personal information.