Social media is all about sharing. You know, connecting with friends … making new ones … even interacting with businesses you like.
But you don’t have to share EVERYTHING. In fact, the less you share the safer you might be. Giving out too much information can set you up for nasty things like identity theft, unwanted solicitations, even crimes such as burglary or stalking.
Here are some tips for protecting yourself and your personal information on social sites:
- You don’t need to fill out everything on a social network profile. Complete only the questions that are absolutely required.
- Make sure your password isn’t easy to figure out … and make it different from your other ones. Don’t share it with others. If a friend, business, or prospective employer asks for your password, the answer should always be “No.”
- Strongly consider limiting who can see your posts. Limit access only to people who you have agreed to interact with. An “everyone” option is not a wise choice.
- Never post important private information where other people can see it. This includes bank account numbers, social security numbers, passwords, addresses, personal phone numbers or any other information people could use to steal your identity or scam you in any way.
- Think twice about making your birth date public … or at least block the year from what people see about you. This is one more piece of information that identity thieves can use.
- Don’t post vacation dates or make a big deal out of your daily routine. Burglars can use that to strike while you’re gone.
- Be careful about location-based sites. Do you really want people – potentially the wrong people - to be able to find you anywhere you’re at – at any time of day?
- Think twice before clicking on a link unless you totally trust the person who posted it. It’s not uncommon for cyber-crooks to use cool-sounding links to compromise your computer in ways for them to steal your personal data.
- Online games on social networks can be fun and addictive but be aware that the apps generally need to access some of your social network data … and you’re not always guaranteed that the app maker isn’t using that data in the wrong way or selling it to another business.
- Don’t fall for the ‘YOU JUST WON A PRIZE!’ scams. These folks usually just want data about you that they can sell to someone else. If a deal sounds too good to be true … it probably is.
- And remember … you don’t have to be everyone’s friend. If you’re unsure of the person sending you a request, don’t accept it. These folks might just be trying to learn more about you or your contacts.
Sharing information about yourself doesn’t automatically make you a target … but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Your REAL friends will know how to contact you.
And there are a lot of things worth keeping private!