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Blog > Identity Theft > Protecting Your Privacy on Social Media – How to Mitigate ID Theft Threats
 April 08, 2020

Protecting Your Privacy on Social Media – How to Mitigate ID Theft Threats

Three teenage boys looking at social media on a mobile phone screen while relaxing in a bedroom.

There is no shortage of creative ways cybercriminals try to steal your identity. It’s like a game of Whac-a-Mole. As soon as a scam is stopped, another pops up to replace it. And social media is not immune to this problem.

Your address, date of birth, where you were born and your cell number are the keys to your identity, so you need to keep them safe to prevent cybercriminals from using your personally identifiable information for fraudulent activities. If criminals do get access to these details, they can use them to make purchases, open new accounts, or apply for loans all in your name!

The Social Media Minefield

Every social network makes money from selling your data to third-parties, including advertisers. Therefore, it’s in their interest that you share as many details of your life as possible. No platform is a safe space where you can afford to drop your guard and assume cybercriminals are not lurking.

It’s clear that you can’t put your faith in social platforms to prioritize your privacy and protect your information. So, what can you do to ensure your personal and financial information stays safe? The following are a few tips to help protect your identity while using social media.

Privacy Settings and Tools Are Your BFF

Every platform has privacy settings, but they require you to find them and change them from the default “share everything with everybody” to a more limited privacy setting. Once this is done, you need to set a reminder to keep checking the settings as they often default back to sharing everything with everybody! Unless your privacy settings are on lockdown, you’re putting yourself at risk.

Keep Your Circle of Friends and Followers Tight

Most of us have built extensive networks across our social platforms; however, very few of us take time to check that every follower is a friend. You need to be ruthless and prune your followers so that your circle is limited to people you know well and trust rather than distant acquaintances. Also, be on the lookout for fake accounts that follow you and immediately block them.

Sharing Is Not Caring

We can’t say this enough! Every time you’re asked for personal information, make sure the request is legitimate and question whether it’s necessary, and avoid oversharing on social media. Remember, your personal information is precious, so don’t leave it on the online sidewalk for anyone to pick through.

Avoid the Lure of Links: Don’t Fall for Scams

Phishing scams are rife across social media. We have all seen enticing posts stating that you are a lucky winner and all you need to do is click on this link to access the prize. The reality is that this is a tried and tested strategy to solicit your information, which is the prize for cybercriminals. Be wary of DMs from anyone you don’t know, especially when they include links as this is often a way to direct you to websites set up for fraud or phishing.

Limit Third-Party Apps

Audit the number of apps that your social accounts link to. Delete the ones you no longer use and then carefully review the apps that are left. Check the settings to see the type of information you are sharing with each app and determine if the risk is worth it. Again, regularly audit your apps as it’s amazing how quickly they expand.

Keep Your Cell Number Under Wraps

Be very careful about sharing or adding your cell number to your social accounts. This limits the risk of SIM swapping, where a cybercriminal takes control of your cell number by getting a replacement SIM from your provider. Once a criminal takes control of your phone number, they reset passwords and emails for all your online services. Your cell number is how many companies, including banks, confirm your identity, so share it sparingly!

Social media platforms’ mission is to profit from the information you share, which is the antithesis of how to protect your privacy. Therefore, it’s up to everyone to take steps to protect personal information from misuse.

IDShield is Here to Help You

Our mission is to make sure you and your family’s identity remains private and protected at all times. Find out more about our privacy solutions.

IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. For complete terms, coverage and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.


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