“Going out of town on a 4 day vacation. Can’t wait to see the ocean, eat some good seafood, and spend some time with my wife!”
“I just don’t know how the dogs are going to be able to cope at the dog kennel for the next two weeks until we get back.”
What do all of these statements have in common? Two things, really:
- They indicate that you are going to be out of town for an extended period of time.
- They indicate that you are likely unintentionally sharing way too much information about yourself on social networks.
Many people don’t realize it, but everything that is posted on your social network is considered public domain – even when it is locked up as “private.” There is no privacy when it comes to the internet, and search engines will pull your status updates from sites like Twitter for the entire world to see. And what do you think the identity thief is thinking, looking at your profile and seeing that you’re going to be out of town? Yep – time to strike.
Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be on a social network having fun with your friends, followers, colleagues, and even complete strangers. What I am saying is that you should be careful about what you are sharing, how often you share it, and whom you share it with. The entire global community doesn’t need to know you are going on vacation for the next few days because that means your house is likely going to be empty. An identity thief could break in, look for your small fireproof safe that likely contains all your confidential information, steal it, and then pop the lock on their own time.
So how do you limit the information that you share? First of all, ignore the temptation to fully fill out your profiles. The people who need to know that you like Spaceballs, charming walks on the beach late at night, and Monday Night Raw already know this about you anyway. Don’t share it.
Secondly, be careful about uploading pictures from your mobile phone. This pictures contain GPS tags to them, which can be easily traced to your specific location. This can let an identity thief know via your own uploaded pictures exactly where they need to go in your home to get the information they need… and remember, a financial statement in the wrong hands is really all that is needed, and most people keep those in an unlocked file cabinet.
Thirdly, just watch what you are saying in your status updates. Not everyone needs to know that you go to the store around the same time of day to buy a Coke Zero. By doing this, you’re creating a pattern of your activities that can be easily tracked, letting an identity thief know where you are going to be so that they can take advantage of you.
By limiting the amount of information that is available to people online, you are taking an easy step to protect yourself and your identity. So take a look at your status updates, see if you tend to unintentionally overshare, and make any changes you might need to make regarding your social networking activities today.