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9 Simple Rules to Protect Yourself Against Fraud on Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp are all well-known names, so widely used that it is easy to feel a false sense of security whilst interacting online. Most of us would shred documents containing personal data to protect ourselves from Fraud, but not think twice about displaying the same information online. Even though you can adjust the privacy settlings to make certain details visible to just friends, it doesn’t hide your information from strangers if a friend’s account is hacked or if they are careless about leaving their devices unattended whilst logged in.

 

Here are 9 rules to stick to online to keep yourself safe in the real world

  1. Don’t state your birthday - It’s nice to have friends wish you a happy birthday online, but you can celebrate your birthday without broadcasting it online. Your date of birth is commonly used as a security question by companies, so if a fraudster wanted to pretend to be you then your date of birth would be a useful piece of information to have. If for some reason you really want to make your birthday known, make sure you at least don’t give away your age or year of birth (more tricky if you are approaching a big birthday – someone will spill the beans and therefore enable a fraudster to work it out). Just be mysterious and leave people wonder how young or old you are.

  2. Don’t tell everyone where you live - If a stranger asked you where you lived, would you give them your address? Or if you did, would you then tell them when you would be staying there alone? Everyone wants to feel safe at home and I’ve seen countless posts from lonely friends saying they are alone as their partner/housemates are away – don’t make yourself an easy target for crimes!

  3. Don’t fill in every box when constructing an online profile - Ask yourself whether you would shred this information if it was on paper or whether it would be safe enough to go in the bin. If you wouldn’t want it in the bin – don’t put it online.

  4. Pixie twinkle toes – Don’t be tricked by those daft memes telling you to work out your Pixie name / Santa’s elf name etc. Yes it may be a funny name, but commenting or even worse Reposting / Retweeting the meme and announcing your own funny name just helps fraudsters work out your Birthday/ place of birth/ other details to help them pass security questions pretending to be you.

  5. Enjoy holidays, post photos after – If you’re going to go away and have a nice holiday – actually enjoy yourself and put your phone down! Show off your photos when you get back home. Better still, choose your top few favourites out of the whole lot because let’s be honest, everyone finds looking at other people’s holiday photos really boring anyway. Showing off your hotel when you get there tells everyone your home is empty and available for burglaries for the next however long.

  6. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know – This one doesn’t need much explaining. Why does a stranger want to be your friend? Because they want to see the information you show just to friends of course. Or to flatter you into parting with money. Not all profiles online are real.

  7. Duplicate friend requests – If you receive a friend request from someone you already have on facebook, don’t assume they want to start a new account and add them, send a text or call the person to check it really is them. If you add the person, they’ll either tot up all your information and see if they can commit fraud using your details, or message you pretending to be your friend and ask for something. Tell the friend before the scammer goes any further.

  8. Password Care – Choose a safe password and change it often. Lots of information critical to your security can be found on facebook, and if a scammer could hack in they can also scam your friends and family, as they would make their requests for money or other information appear to be from you.

    Scammers have clever technology these days that can crack passwords in literally seconds by guessing dictionary words and replacing letters with symbols such as @ for ‘a’. Make it harder by using phrases, maybe one that you make up that is ridiculous/untrue and therefore more memorable to you, such as ‘Hatewinelovesalad101’. Avoid stating things that are true, such as your partner’s name or children’s nicknames, as these are commonly used.

  9. Relationship Status – Not so much an issue whilst you are in a relationship, but advertising you are single may make you a target for romance scams. If your status changes to single, you could be more of a target too as fraudsters are happy to exploit people who are particularly vulnerable. If you do state you are single, definitely avoid adding your address as it may just highlight the fact you could live alone and make you an easy target.

 

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