We all know that social media reaps rewards for the companies that own and control it. We know, for example, that it is designed to captivate and hold our attention for long periods of time. But what we may not know is that criminals are using social media to commit identity theft.
Social media gives identity thieves enough information to gain access to email accounts and financial and other types of accounts. The thieves then initiate fraudulent transactions
Here’s everything you need to know on the topic:
Understanding Social Media Identity Theft
Identity theft can happen to anyone, but it’s usually more prevalent in the areas of financial and medical information. So far, it’s been difficult to understand why personal identity theft has risen to such record levels. One thing is certain, though: It has a lot to do with the growth and expansion of social media.
When you take a look at social media, you can see that there’s a lot about it that’s just not good for personal privacy. For example, some of the major social media sites — like Facebook — offer you the opportunity to connect with anybody. And that’s just one of the big problems.
How Criminals Use Social Media to Steal Identities
Criminals use social media in the following ways:
They use it to create bogus profiles that they use to initiate contact with friends, family, and other acquaintances of their victims. They may also use these profiles to gain access to sensitive financial and other personal information.
They use it to gain access to accounts and profiles that are made public — like blogs or business accounts — and use that information to commit identity theft.
They contrive innocent-looking messages that contain malicious links that, when clicked, download malware that gains access to the computers of their victims. They use this information to steal their victims’ identities.
How Your Social Media Habits Could Put Your Identity in Danger
The way that you use social media can make it much easier for criminals to steal your identity. For instance, you may post information about your whereabouts and activities on social media. This can make it easier for criminals to find out where you live and when you’re not home.
They can also use that information to learn about your family and friends. Having access to this information will help them to decide how to most effectively steal your identity.
Additionally, if you post pictures on social media that you’ve taken while out and about, they may show enough of your surroundings to help them to commit identity theft. For instance, if you post pictures of yourself at the beach or at a restaurant, a criminal may use that information to impersonate you and steal your identity.
How to Prevent Social Media Identity Theft
Here are some ways to prevent identity theft on social media:
- Always ensure that your privacy settings are tight and that you are in control of who can view your profile
- Deactivate or delete any social media profiles that are not being used
- Regularly check your list of contacts or friends and prune as needed
- Turn off auto-location tagging
- Avoid answering online quizzes or surveys
- Be cautious of job offers or other opportunities
- Always use unique passwords and use password managers to secure them
- Choose security questions no one else will know the answer to
- Enable two-factor authentication
- Avoid connecting your social media to third-party apps
- Always check recent sign-ins and force unfamiliar devices to be signed out
- Monitor credit and online accounts for any signs of fraud
- Get identity theft protection services
Social media is supposed to be fun, but it also has a dark side. Identity theft is a major concern, especially for business owners whose identities can be used to trick other people to buy from their “businesses”. When identity theft happens, other cyber crimes like brand abuse can be committed, too, so it’s important that you avoid it at all costs.
FraudWatch is a digital brand protection company in Australia that can help you protect your social media from identity theft and other cybercrimes. Get in touch today to know how we can protect you and your brand.