How do you protect your identity and your family’s identity in a growing world of being social online? Most of us are careful to shred important financial documents or personal information but don’t think twice when it comes to online chitchat. A heart-felt birthday wish to a child or elderly relative or a mobile picture while you’re away for the weekend, can make those we love vulnerable.
5 things to keep in mind when you’re online socializing or networking:
1) Never give out your child’s birth date simply for acknowledgement or other social announcements. You laugh, but a local elementary school announces students’ birthday everyday. Child identity theft is on the rise and an innocent announcement such as this can be very dangerous.
As a note, I spoke with the principal of a local elementary school and they hadn’t even thought about the danger of posting students’ birthdays on an electronic board in front of the school. It was a program developed to generate income…one in which they are now rethinking.
2) Don’t provide your real birthday for online contests and promotions. For legal purposes, most states require that you be over 18 years of age to participate and because of this, require participants to provide their date of birth. By all means, don’t give your real one.
3) Be careful not to provide information that could leave you vulnerable while you’re away from home or on vacation. Foursquare, Facebook Places’s and other GPS platforms are becoming very popular. How many of us really know our 150+ friends or friends of our friends or networking community?
4) Don’t use children’s names in your social media posts. Use a nickname or first initial, but not their full name and never their name with reference to their birthday. Child identity theft often goes unnoticed for years, until the child becomes of age and applies for credit.
5) Be careful what you share with the general public. I love the commercial where the banker is offering a prospective client instant cash but they have just a few questions…one requiring a hair sample and another question about their first boyfriend. The interviews were real and so was the information provided without hesitation. Scary~