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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | article

In the New Year, Beware What You Share on Social Media Websites

If your New Year's resolution is to drop a few pounds, you may be inclined to document the transformation through photographs and share your results on a social media website. This is a great way to keep you honest about your progress, as all of your friends can root you on and encourage you when your progress becomes visible. But you may also be inviting unsolicited viewers to learn a little too much about you that could result in identity theft.

Although you assume only friends are following you, you can never be sure
You may have the impression that there are only a few people who notice your profile page on a social media website, but this may hardly be the case in reality. For starters, if you don't employ any privacy settings, your profile can essentially be viewed by anyone on the Internet, including pictures that you post.

Identity thieves may be waiting for your moment of weakness
With every picture you put up on your profile page, you provide more clues for people to learn the essentials about your identity. Posting pictures of yourself in front of your house, for example, could reveal your mailing address. Documenting your birthday party, including your age, is another instance that may seem harmless and common enough on social media websites, but is really harmful. This information is actually a key piece of the puzzle identity thieves use when they pretend to be you.

Your only real friends are the people you have met in the flesh
When you go online, make sure you limit the people who can see the pictures you put on your profile to friends you know in the real world. If you've never met the person in the profile picture face to face in the real world, you can't guarantee that they are actually the person operating the profile. Worst of all, you don't truly know their motives, and they could be on the website specifically to solicit information about other users.

Even when you do incorporate privacy settings, be careful about what pictures you post. Personal information like Social Security numbers should never find their way onto a profile, though sometimes you may overlook what is actually visible in a photo you post online.

No matter what your resolution is going into the New Year, be sure that you start the next 12 months on the right foot financially. Enroll in a monitoring service that can help you keep an eye on the activity taking place under your name and alert you to certain changes that may turn out to be an indication of fraud.

Do your best to improve yourself over the New Year, not to make life easier for a thief.