Many consumers are worried about having their identity stolen from a social media site, but at the same time are including the personal information in their profiles that could lead to identity theft, according to a recent Google Consumer Survey commissioned by TransUnion.
Nearly half of Americans surveyed (45.4%) said they were concerned about having their identity stolen from using personal information in their social media accounts, according to the survey. Furthermore, 35% of all respondents indicated they included personal information such as their birthdate, address, employer and phone number.
"While social media is a great way for individuals to connect with others and exchange ideas, consumers should be careful what personal information they include in their profiles," said Heather Battison, vice president at TransUnion responsible for consumer education. "Remember that the general rules of connecting and engaging with someone online remain the same in social media as they do everywhere -- use common sense when giving someone else information."
TransUnion provides the following tips to help social media users better safeguard:
-- Less is More: Avoid giving out personal information on social media sites, such as address, phone number or your birth date. Identity thieves can open accounts and commit a number of financial crimes with just this information. -- Do Not Leave a Trail of Cookies: Do not save your password when you are on a public or work computer. Some social media sites automatically check this box under your sign in, so make sure it is never saved. If it saves, it may automatically bring up your account the next time someone else goes to that social media site. -- Lock It Up: Change your privacy settings on all your social media accounts, so that you have control of all the information that is posted. Set your profile to private, and make sure you have to approve any friend requests, comments, photo tags, links or posts that appear on your page. -- Get Creative: Create intricate passwords when you sign up for social media accounts. Change your passwords to social media accounts every one to three months. -- Do Not Over-Share: Never give out your travel plans over social media sites. In many instances, social media thieves have become actual thieves, taking this data and using it to rob people when they are out of town. -- Home School Kids on Social Media: Go through these social media guidelines with your children. Although many young people are more adept at navigating the Internet, they may not fully understand the implications of posting private information, photos or potentially offensive material on the Internet. -- Monitor Your Credit: Make sure you periodically check your credit reports for accuracy and consider signing up for a credit monitoring service, which can alert you by email to changes in your credit report -- a helpful way to prevent identity theft.
Written by TransUnion Interactive and conducted using Google Consumer Surveys, March 2013. Survey of 1500 Americans. Survey results have a 95% confidence level.