Can Social Networking Cause Identity Theft?

Jul 25, 2007 • 9:00 am | comments (3) by twitter | Filed Under Social Search Engines & Optimization
 

Chris Winfield at Cre8asite Forums poses an interesting challenge for those of us who use social networking sites religiously. Is it a threat to your security? This question is promoted by an article where opponents of providing personal information believe that it indeed is a threat:

According to credit information provider Equifax, fraudsters could make off with users' personal information in order to commit ID theft--and the company is urging Web users to limit the amount of info they post online.

Most forum members are cautious about volunteering a lot of information. I understand that. It is rather difficult, however, for the young users of sites like MySpace and Facebook not to volunteer their personal information. The sites encourage it (if you don't enter a birthday on Facebook, for example, you get prompted to do so every time you log in until you do).

Still, that doesn't necessarily work well for some users.

[S]ecurity is a frame of mind, a way of life. You're either secure or not. To give an analogy, why lock the windows if you leave the door wide open? Lock everything!

I believe that users need to exercise caution when providing intimate details about themselves online. There's no reason to share with the world the last 4 digits of your social security number, your mother's maiden name, your father's middle name, or the name of your first pet. However, if this poses a problem in the future, and I can see that it might, it becomes a matter of credit providers to evolve, because there are millions of innocent victims whose identities are at risk on these social sites.

Neil Munroe, external affairs director for Equifax, said in a statement: "The problem is that people don't realize the significance of the kind of information they are putting out on the Web and who may be accessing it." He cited details such as date of birth, e-mail, job and marital status as the kind of data frequently posted online by unwary users.

It's time that those "minor" detail requirements are replaced by lesser known details.

Forum discussion continues at Cre8asite Forums.

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