Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have millions of users worldwide where they share important details about themselves, their lives, their families and their friends. Because of the simplicity of being able to keep in contact, it has gained po[censored] rity over the years. However, this po[censored] rity has also lead to one big disadvantage; that is, online identity theft. Many Facebook users tend to over-share information about themselves which is exactly what identity thieves. Overtime, Facebook has become a valuable tool for thieves to common online theft and fraud.
Thieves can fake your identity to gain access to your friends
Sometimes, it’s just a simple account invasion that thieves can use to perpetrate their crime. Identity thieves can use Facebook to hack a victim’s account, create an extremely similar-looking account and use that fake account to target the victim’s network of friends. How were they able to do this? You may have fallen victim to phishing tactics (clicking on su[censored] ious links where thieves can hack your information) without knowing it. It’s a bad idea indeed to click on links sent by anonymous individuals, but, it’s not always you that thieves want to target. Often they just intend to use you as a medium to gain a lot more information about other people – your friends. How? When they gather enough information about you – through phishing or other id theft tactics (another po[censored] r one uses a screenshot of your main page) – they then can create a fake account that appears to be you and use it to add your friends. Now, they closely watch your friends to continue the process, gathering the information they want – where they live, what’s their full name, whether they have pets, whether they go to school or work, and others. Because your friends believe that it’s you they’re connecting to, they often publish plenty of information that hackers can use to crack passwords or verify security questions. It’s true that identity thieves can already use whatever information they have on hand to victimize you, but they will be better off using your identity to gain access and victimize your friends. The more information gathered, the more opportunities to create ill-gained profits from those victims and not you alone.
Other cons are simpler and crooks can get fast cash with the help of your fake profile. Creative crooks can just message your friends asking for their help. For instance, the thief assuming your identity can say that you’re out of the country, your do[censored] ents and money are all lost, and you need instant cash to help get back home as soon as possible. Concerned, friends may be tricked into transferring money to the con artist.
Prevent online theft – tips to proactively protect your identity even in social networking
If you’re using Facebook, the following tips can help you, your family and friends, stay protected from the risks of identity theft.
• Always review your account’s privacy settings to make sure that the information you share or post is visible or can be read only by people you want to share it with.
• Even if a message came from a friend or relative, you must also treat it with the same skepticism as you would treat other chat or email messages from strangers – especially if they’re requesting you to click on a link or parti[censored] te in a survey of some sort.
• It’s important that you create a strong password for your Facebook account and change it regularly, as well. This prevents thieves from easily accessing your account.
• Consider signing up for identity theft protection services, which can help you detect if someone is misusing your information for illicit activities – such as opening new lines of credit or using your name to apply for a utility services.