This is a guest contribution from Amy Johnson.
Social media has become incredibly popular. Many people have accounts on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or LinkedIn, and many share information, photos, and other things with their friends through these sites. But they may not realise how much they’re sharing or that strangers can access some of this information.
In fact, some people never think to apply some of the basics of online identity theft prevention to their social media posts and profiles.
It’s important to realise that, even if you have restricted your posts to certain people, it may be possible that others can see and access some of your information and use it to steal your identity.
What to Keep Secret
When you sign up for a social media profile, there are some things you almost always have to provide, such as your first and last name, your email, and your birthdate. Most sites allow you to keep some of this information hidden, but you still have to provide it.
However, besides the email address, you aren’t actually required to provide real information. You can use a fake last name or a fake birthday if you want. Just make a note of this information in case you need it later. Most sites will send a confirmation link to your email address that you must click on to activate the account, so you must enter a valid email address.
However, to avoid giving spammers and others your real email, create an email address you use only for things like social media or mailing lists.
Never add your address or phone number to your profile.
Think about your Profile Picture
Posting a profile picture is almost a requirement with social networks now, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a picture of you. You can use a picture of your pets, a piece of artwork you’ve done, or a picture you’ve applied different filters to.
If you have a professional photo that you know is being used elsewhere on the internet, there’s no reason not to use it, especially if you’re creating a work-related profile on a site like LinkedIn.
Here are two things when considering what picture to use:
- Does it give away any information about me that I would rather keep public?
- Would I want my mother or children seeing this picture?
Almost all social media sites have privacy settings you can use to help with online identity theft protection.