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Social media can lead to identity theft

Mar 03, 2014 Dave King

Hundreds of millions of Americans use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to stay up on the news and communicate with friends. But they may not know that sharing information on this type of medium can create identity theft risk.

To help people avoid identity theft and subsequent damage to their consumer credit scores, these sorts of companies, as well as financial organizations, need to make users aware of what they can do to reduce their risk:

Don't share the answers to security questions - To protect personal information, many banks and financial institutions require people to have security questions. For example: what was your city of birth? According to Discover, people need to be careful not to share these answers on social media. This includes place of birth, first pet's name and other details. This information doesn't need to be on a social media page.

Keep your username and password safe - Facebook and Twitter are being integrated into multiple different websites, as many now allow people to sign in using their logins to social media pages. According to Entrepreneurs' Organization, people should avoid doing this, as sharing user names and passwords with third parties can create identity theft risk. It is best to take the extra time to create a unique login.

Refrain from entering credit card information - Social media sites, Facebook especially, are starting to incorporate games and other services that users can pay to use. This isn't necessarily the safest place to enter credit card information. This information also shouldn't be shared on bank social media pages looking for help. Instead, people should give them a call or visit in person. It is best to limit the amount of times credit card numbers and other banking information are shared on social media.

Don't accept friend requests from strangers - Most people who are members of social media sites have received a friend request or follow from someone they don't know. In some cases these are harmless, but other times the person could be trying to gain access to personal information. For this reason, it is recommended that people don't accept these requests from people they don't know. It is best to keep a social media following to friends, family members and colleagues.