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Social Media and Identity Theft | Brendan Moran



Social Media and Identity Theft

facebook_boycottWhen using Social Media sites, par­tic­u­lar­ly Face­book you must be very care­ful not to fall foul of iden­ti­ty theft or be the vic­tim of oth­er crimes like bur­glary.

Inter­net pri­va­cy advo­cates agree: Face­book is a hotbed for iden­ti­ty theft. Not only are many of the “secret ques­tions” for finan­cial accounts like birth date, city, and address­es pub­licly dis­played to all who view your page, there is also a much high­er inci­dence rate for scam­mers and phish­ers when a “friend” – almost always a scam­mer who has com­pro­mised a Face­book account – sends you a fraud­u­lent link to click or asks for mon­ey to be wired over­seas. Pro­tect your pri­va­cy by ensur­ing that you are fol­low­ing these impor­tant social net­work­ing pri­va­cy tips.


In a Psy­chol­o­gy study con­duct­ed at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty, 16% of stu­dents became vic­tims of a con­trolled phish­ing scam, but a whop­ping 72% were vic­tims when they believed it was their friend who sent them the fraud­u­lent link. In most cas­es, we trust the faces and text of peo­ple we know with­out ever con­firm­ing that they are the true orig­i­na­tor of the mes­sage.

Protecting Personal Information on Facebook

Pro­tect against iden­ti­ty theft on Face­book by care­ful­ly set­ting appro­pri­ate Face­book Pri­va­cy Set­tings on your account. By click­ing on Account, Pri­va­cy Set­tings, and then select­ing “Friends Only,” you can ensure your pro­file infor­ma­tion is vis­i­ble only to the peo­ple you allow to view it.

But remem­ber, these pri­va­cy set­tings only work if you know every­one who you approve to be your friend! It is vital that you do not accept ran­dom friend requests from users you do not know, as they are often spam­mers, scam­mers, or iden­ti­ty thieves.

The “London” Scam

Due to the innate trust of users on social net­work­ing, scam­mers have start­ed steal­ing Face­book account pass­words in order to per­pe­trate a con known as the Lon­don Scam. In such a scam, many users will get a pri­vate mes­sage from their friend’s Face­book account with a mes­sage like “My lug­gage was lost, and I’m stuck in Lon­don. Would you be will­ing to wire me $900 for a plane tick­et home?” This type of preda­to­ry con game preys on the trust of Face­book and the ease of imper­son­at­ing some­one else.

Related Legislation

Pri­va­cy on social net­work­ing sites has become lax, and numer­ous indi­vid­u­als have already had their iden­ti­ty stolen due to poor man­age­ment of their Face­book account. Social net­work­ing iden­ti­ty theft has become so preva­lent that Cal­i­for­nia recent­ly passed new leg­is­la­tion mak­ing it a crime to false­ly imper­son­ate anoth­er user over the Inter­net. The penal­ties for being con­vict­ed of imper­son­at­ing a user are up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

For more infor­ma­tion please con­tact me — E‑Mail: