We’ve been talking about social media and identity theft at ProtectMyID for years and are glad that media outlets like the Wall Street Journal are now covering this topic, too. One recent WSJ piece on the aforementioned subject cited recent studies that show an increase in identity theft in 2011, noting that one of the factors is the vast wealth of information people share on their social media accounts. Note the plural use of accounts here. I have a personal story about how I was affected by one mistake on one social media account.
Like many people, I use multiple social media accounts for different purposes. There are the ubiquitous accounts, like Facebook, that help us keep up with our friends and family. There are others like LinkedIn, that help us stay connected to the people who matter in our professional sphere. Then there are blogs, forums, microblogs (think Twitter), and niche sites.
While those who are particularly conscious about identity theft make sure their often-accessed accounts have current privacy settings, there are often dormant, forgotten-about accounts in most people’s pasts; a generation one social account, an early attempt at a blog that is no longer updated, a once-popular but quickly eclipsed photo sharing site, the list goes on and on. Years ago, I created a blog as a way to help close friends and family keep up with the latest news about me and my family. The blog was not set to private and included far too much information that could be used by enterprising identity thieves. Only recently was reminded of this blog’s existence, so I took the necessary steps to protect my information.
Today, as the media shines its spotlight on social media as a petri dish for identity theft, be sure to take stock of all your social media accounts – present and past – and make the changes necessary to protect your identity.