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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection The Resource Center | article

Is Your Social Media Use Harming Your Security?

These social media behaviors could be increasing your vulnerability to fraud or identity theft.

For some of us, social media is the center of our lives. It’s where we share and experience major personal moments and those of our friends and family. However, some of our habits on these sites have the potential to put us at risk for fraud and identity theft. To help you avoid those consequences, here are some of the ways these online behaviors could be detrimental to your security:


You likely have at least one friend on your news feed who posts way too much about every little thing that happens to him. Perhaps, that person is you. For whatever reason, a lot of us are guilty of oversharing now and then.

“It may be that social norms just haven’t completely developed yet, but we end up revealing so much more than we likely would have without the internet, and we reveal it to a much wider range of people,” Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, told Discovery News.

However, this habit is not just a nuisance to people on your news feed, it could be making you even more vulnerable to identity theft. Think of it this way: the more you share, the more information available for fraudsters to use.

Ignoring privacy settings

Social media sites have adjustable privacy settings that allow you to control so many more aspects of it than ever before. Now you can selectively decide who gets to see what on your profile, and you absolutely should take advantage of this range of options. This can protect certain information from landing in the wrong hands. Since sites usually require you to profile your date of birth, you can keep some of those details private by adjusting your settings.

Using weak passwords

You may not take your social media account seriously, but a hacker would if they could get their hands on your login credentials. That’s why you should use strong passwords for all your accounts, from email to Facebook. If someone could easily guess your password, they could access a lot more than some embarrassing photos.

Accepting sketchy friend requests

It’s flattering to receive a friend request, but don’t get swept away by the excitement of it all. In some cases, these friend requests are fakes, and the real person behind the profile is trying to pilfer some information off of you to use maliciously. Fraudsters know that social media sites carry a wealth of personal details about their users, such as location, date of birth, family member names and more. They also know they can easily create fake profiles and request your friendship to access all this information.

It is best to not accept any new online friends if you don't know who they are. Of course, there are certain exceptions to this rule, so use your best judgment. Poke around that person’s profile to figure out whether it’s real.

Beyond taking these precautions on social media, it's also important to remain vigilant about personal details, such as your Social Security Number. For these concerns, you can invest in a service like Identity Guard, which can monitor your credit file and notify you of certain activity involving your SSN that could be indicative of fraud.