At the bottom of every advertisement, little icons shout, “Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!” Athletes and celebrities alike use social sites to build their brands and connect with fans. Social media is everywhere. Perhaps you were even directed to this article from a social media site.
According to a recent article from The Uniter, 90 percent of people between 18 and 29 use social media. Even beyond that demographic, the article notes, the most conservative estimations say people spend an average of about 1.7 hours a day on social media. With those figures in mind, the article then offers a final, crushing statistic:
“If that number holds true for all 365 days a year, that means just over 26 days of your year are spent, from start to finish, in the land of hashtags, followers, and regrams.”
Considering its powerful hold on us, it’s crucial we take the time to truly understand this technology we have come to enjoy so much. While social media has made it easier to connect with the people we care about, those who don’t have our best interests at heart have proven to be able to use the technology for less admirable ends.
It might be impossible to change the behaviors of others, but these tips can help you make the most out of controlling your own behaviors on social media:
First and foremost, as soon as you set up an account on any platform it is crucial to review your privacy settings. Even if you don’t end up making any changes, it’s important to know how your information could be shared. On sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we recommend limiting the information you share to only be visible to users you have approved. This may mean setting your profile to “private,” or enabling a feature that requires you to approve users’ follow requests before they can view your profile. Once your settings are up-to-date, be sure to only approve people you know personally.
We’ve all heard the warning, “Don’t share anything online that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the whole world knowing.” That being said, it can be difficult to remember that advice when doing something as automatic as filling out the recommended fields on a new profile. Even if you’ve tightened your privacy settings, it’s impossible to fully control how anything you post gets shared. So, even if it’s something as seemingly small as a “hometown” or “birthday” field buried deep in your profile, ask yourself how necessary it really is before you provide that information.
One of the best rules of thumb for using social media safely is to only interact with people you know personally. Once you go beyond that line, you make yourself vulnerable to a host of scams. That’s not to say that every interaction you have with a known party is completely secure, but you have even less insurance when you don’t know the person on the other end of the computer. If you do engage in a conversation with someone you don’t know, be sure not to reveal any personal or financial information to the person, no matter how well you get to know one another. Fraudsters often let these conversations go on for a long time, appealing to their victims’ emotions before attempting to gather information they could use to commit identity theft or credit fraud.
These tips can go a long way toward protecting your identity from ID theft enabled by social media. However, there is no way to completely mitigate the risk of fraud. To make sure there’s always an extra set of eyes on your credit file looking for certain activity that may indicate fraud, sign up for a credit monitoring service today.