Identity Theft - Facebook and MySpace
You create a profile, share photos with friends, make new friends and swap messages. It's all fun and games -- until somebody gets their identity stolen. Millions of people who are on popular networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace are at risk and don't even know it.
Globally, there are more than 110 million members on MySpace and 60 million on Facebook. Reunion and LinkedIn boast 30 million members each. With millions of users out there who you don't know, but who can view your profile, the risk of identity theft is there.
This isn't to say that you should avoid all the social networking websites altogether. But by being more prudent and not divulging too much about yourself, you can avoid compromising your identity without compromising your social life. Think about the millions of strangers out there who are able to see your information. When you give out your full name, birth date, place of work, phone number, your mother's maiden name and other personal information, you're giving thieves an obvious target.
The IT security company Sophos created a fake Facebook profile and sent out friend requests to dozens of random users. By doing so, this false profile was able to retrieve information such as photos, names of partners and spouses and resumes. Using this information, thieves can impersonate, send phishing emails and even guess passwords.
Ways to Minimize Fraud Risk
1. Be more private online. Use an alias or just your first name rather than your full name.
2. Share but beware. Whenever possible, don't post your phone number, home address, workplace information or the names of family and close relatives.
3. Keep emails separate. Use different email addresses to register for social networking sites and for your personal use.
4. Watch out for strangers. A request to be your friend from a complete stranger should be taken suspiciously and probably ignored.
5. Avoid phishing emails. Emails that require you to fill out too much information should be approached with caution and reported to the website administrator.
6. Check your settings. Change your privacy settings so that strangers have limited access to what they can view on your profile.