When It Comes to Staying Safe on Social Media, Listen to Your Mother
Twenty-one percent of adult internet users have had an email or social media account compromised.1
Applying some old-fashioned words of wisdom to our modern online lives can help prevent it from happening to you. Here are some tips from the IDShield investigators:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Thirty-nine percent of U.S. adults admit to using the same, or similar, password across multiple online accounts.2
You’ve heard this a thousand times but it can’t be said often enough: use strong, unique passwords for each account and change them often. Choose security questions that can’t be easily answered by reviewing your social media profile. If someone tries to access your account, it’s probably not going to be very hard for them to provide your mother’s maiden name, where you went to high school or your first job, based on what you’ve shared or who you’re connected to on social media.
If you receive a notification that someone has tried to access your account, read the notice carefully before clicking on any links. Check the email address; is it coming from the social media website or from a personal email account such as Gmail or Yahoo? Are there spelling and/or grammatical errors? If so, delete the message; you should also check your account and reset your password. Enrolling the account in two-factor authentication, which adds an extra step to the login—often by entering a code sent to your email account or mobile device—can prevent someone from logging into your account from an unauthorized device. Check your account(s) regularly to be sure nothing has been compromised.
“It’s best to keep some things to yourself.”
The point of social media is to share parts of your life with your family and friends, but make certain you aren’t sharing information that could make you a target or help someone take over your account or identity.
- Be aware of your privacy settings. Consider sharing posts with only your “friends,” and check to see what, if any, options you have to limit or opt out of sharing of your personal data.
- Same advice goes for location settings. Consider turning off your location settings, or choose the generic city name instead of your exact location when posting. Parents should periodically review their minor children’s privacy and location settings and explain to them the importance of being careful about what, and with whom, they are sharing online.
- Make sure profile information such as your phone number, address, date of birth, email address, etc., is hidden from the public.
“Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your Mom to know about.”
Or your current or future boss. Or the college you plan to attend. Know that others may form an opinion of you in the future based on what you post online today. Everything you put on social media is permanent; even if you delete a comment, photo or thread from view, it can still live on the site’s servers, and somewhere a screenshot may exist. A seemingly innocent or offhand comment may cause a future employer or school to look at you unfavorably. Think about that the next time you want to vent about your bad day at work or post something you wouldn’t say to someone in person. Jobs and scholarships have been lost as a result of derogatory comments or photos of activities that have gotten out of hand.
Be social, be yourself. Just use caution and common sense to avoid oversharing; that’s the best way to protect your identity and reputation online. And remember, if something looks suspicious or raises concerns, IDShield investigators are available to answer any questions you may have.
1Pew Research Center. (2013). Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online
2Pew Research Center. (2017). Americans and Cybersecurity
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 www.idshield.com. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact an attorney for legal advice or assistance. If you are a LegalShield member, you should contact your Provider Law Firm.