So you like to hang out on social media sites like MySpace and Facebook? Great fun aren’t they? Well you won’t be laughing when you realize you could be, unwittingly, giving away personal details that could lead to idenity theft.
Although I think I’m always careful about these things I started to wonder after watching a TV show about it.
A journalist for the show created an account with Facebook and then befriended random people. They then looked at the profiles of some people who reciprocated and started chatting to them. Using the information gained on Facebook (and info that is linked to from their profiles) they were able to successfully apply for a credit card. Ouch!
Of course money is probably the biggest source of stress for us all so this is definitely not something you want to happen. So what can we do to protect ourselves?
Don’t give out the following information:-
- Full date of birth
- Where you live or were born
- Mother’s maiden name
- School attended
- Be careful about listing favourite things – security questions for online banking often ask what your favourite TV show, food, signer etc is.
When connecting to the internet with wireless broadband make sure that it’s properly secure. If you don’t know how to do this ask your local computer guy. The reason you need to make sure it’s secure is because people who aren’t even in your home can tap into your connection. I read about a guy who sat outside in his car accessing the wireless broadband to download images of child porn!
Software to Protect your Computer
- Firefox – It’s said to be more secure than Internet Explorer.
- AVG Free Edition – don’t think that because it’s free there’s something wrong with it. I’ve heard great things about if from people who are computer technicians. You can pay to upgrade if you wish to protect yourself from spyware, spam and hackers.
- Windows Defender – I currently have this installed to protect me from spyware.
- ZoneAlarm – a firewall which gives further protection to your computer.
- Make sure you are running the latest version of your software.
- Avoid file sharing sites. If you do use them make sure to run the file through a virus scanner.
Disposing of Your Old Computer – When getting rid of your old computer take out the hard drive or use an overwriting programme. The reason is that many computers end up in Nigeria which seems to be the epicentre of many scams. I watched a documentary about this; scary stuff!
Check Your Credit Rating – Another thing to do is to contact credit reference agencies to make sure there’s no “abnormal” activity on it. I’ve heard that you can do this online but it costs quite a bit of money. It’s much cheaper to write to the different companies instead. Obviously this will depend of what part of the world you live.
I hope that this will make you think a bit more about giving all your personal details to people you’ve never met. Don’t be one of the 41% of Facebook users who aren’t so careful.