Online Scams

How to share safely on social media

Bet you know what TMI means: Too Much Information. But how about SOS? We believe Safer Online Sharing will help people make sure they’re not giving out TMI on social media that could put their privacy and identity at risk.

5 tips for practicing SOS
Sharing our special moments with our social media networks allows us to stay connected with our closest loved ones and also to expand our social circles to new friends if we share our information publicly. You don’t have to stop sharing completely, but you may want to consider the types of information you’re sharing, and if they could be used to steal your identity or put you at risk in some way. Follow these suggestions for safer social sharing online.

1. Check your privacy settings on your social network sites. Although you may originally have set your updates for viewing by people you are connected to, some social networking sites update their policies, and users don’t realize they have to opt-out of some new public-view settings.

If you do share everything publicly, stop to think about how that may hurt you. If you Google yourself you might be surprised to see how much information about you is already online. Then ask yourself if you’re okay with everybody in the world seeing this information — including prospective employers, potential love interests, and your 13-year-old niece.

2. Only accept invitations to link online with people you know well in real life. Unless the information you share is very general, it’s probably safer only to accept invitations to connect with people you know.

It may be tempting to make friends with a charming stranger, but catfishing is real. Without having real-life connections in common, you may never know if that person is really who they say they are.

3. Don’t display the names of the people in your network. While you may not be victimized directly, your connections might be. Spear-phishing scams rely on cybercriminals gathering enough personal information to send out convincing emails, seemingly from people known by the target. With access to the names of your connections, your friends may start to get bogus emails from somebody pretending to be you.

4. Make announcements that aren’t too specific. Sadly, this extends to birth, death, engagement, and wedding announcements. Announcing your baby’s full name and date of birth could allow cybercriminals to pair that information with online research for a mother’s maiden name, which might enable them to commit identity fraud. This particular type of fraud can go undetected for several years, until your baby is all grown up and tries to start building credit.

Event announcements and invitations fall under the same guidelines. Don’t give out full names of attendees or exact locations or dates unless absolutely necessary. Save details for the private invites you’re sending to guests. Otherwise you could be giving would-be burglars an unintentional invitation to commit a crime.

5. Share but don’t overshare. Before making your announcements online, take a moment to remember you should be cautious. Don’t be guilty of TMI — too much information. The information you choose to share may be shared by your connections to their networks. Ultimately, once your information is on the Internet, you have no control over who may see it.

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