New Survey: Social Networkers At Risk

A status update. A tweet. Simple things that could put you at risk. A new survey says millions of users of social networking sites leave themselves vulnerable to identity theft, cybercrimes, and even home invasions.

The Consumer Reports survey found:

  • 52% of social networkers have posted potentially risky information on the web within the past year. And many of them don’t even know it.
  • 9% say they fell prey to some sort of scam or abuse.

Remember a recent story that made national headlines? A burglary caught on surveillance video in a home, where the owner had just posted a Facebook status update that she was heading to a concert. Homeowner Keri McMullen says, “I posted that on my facebook page, who the band was, where we were going. The band started at 8.” Her status update was a tipoff to the burglars that no one was home.

Your birthday. your home address, any information you might share with “virtual” friends is information identity thieves find very valuable.

Another target? Tweets about vacation. Consumer Reports Associate Editor Donna Tapellini says, “You don’t want to put in your status update, ‘Leaving for Europe tomorrow on a two-week vacation’. Instead wait until you get home and post the photographs after the vacation is over. Otherwise people can rob your house. It’s that simple.'”

Consumer Reports offers these “7 Things To Stop Doing Now On Facebook”:

  1. Using a weak password
  2. Leaving your full birth date in your profile
  3. Overlooking useful privacy controls
  4. Posting your child’s name in a caption
  5. Letting search engines find you
  6. Permitting youngsters to use Facebook unsupervised
  7. Mentioning that you’ll be away from home

Many of us who are social networkers are guilty of most of those. Keri McMullen learned a lesson the hard way on that last one.   ” I will never ever put that I’m going anywhere on Facebook,” she says. “You really don’t know who your friends are.”

People like to share, but just remember that a lot of people are seeing that information and it stays up there forever.

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