You know that you’re supposed to be careful what you put up on your Facebook page or blog in order to maintain your professionalism, but there’s also a less-talked-about reason to do so: The risk of identity theft.
There are many reasons not to tell the world about your spring break debauchery, but there’s one you might not be thinking about: You shouldn’t be telling anyone where you’re going to be on any given night. Letting people know your whereabouts or personal stats makes it that much easier for them to steal your identity.
Even if you have your blog or social networking site set to “private,” you don’t know where your friends are located when they view your information, nor who is viewing it with them. “Screen captures” are easy to do, and can be emailed to strangers. Treat all your posted information as though the whole world can see it. Your friends may be trustworthy, but you can’t know if they’re always vigilant.
Are You Safe?
Take this quiz to find out. Check “yes” or “no” for each of the following questions.
___ ___ Is your full name viewable? (first and last)
___ ___ Is your personal e-mail viewable?
___ ___ Is the city/zip code where you live viewable?
___ ___ Is the name of your home state and town viewable?
___ ___ Is your school or place of employment viewable?
___ ___ Is your specific birth date viewable (day/month/year)?
___ ___ Is your phone number visible?
___ ___ Are there any links visible containing any personal information?
___ ___ Do you show any information on where you are going to be any given night (i.e. telling people about a concert or party you will be attending.)
___ ___ Are there any clues about your home location, or directions to your house visible? (driving directions, maps, etc.)
___ ___ Do you give any clues as to how much money you or your family makes?
___ ___ Is your social security number viewable?
___ ___ Do you have a picture or scan of any official identification on the site? (driver’s license, student ID card, employee badge, etc.)
___ ___ Have you posted any information about your friends and family?
If you answered “yes” to more than one of these questions, then your profile is not safe. Any of these things is enough information for somebody to steal your identity or even stalk you.
- Assume that everything is viewable to the whole world. You never know who could be peaking over your friend’s shoulder as she reads your blog.
- Only allow people you know to view your personal blog.
- If you are using your blog/social networking site for employment reasons, post only information about your abilities, talents, and degrees. If possible, try not to publicly post your previous employers or educational history. You can personally email your complete resume to potential employers who request it.