It's so easy to get lured into online friendships. Especially this time of year, when people are friendlier than usual and reaching out to old acquaintances like you, you often accept friend requests without giving it much thought.
That's nice, when it's a person you know and trust. But, too often, your so-called online friends are really just scammers trying to steal your identity.
If you think back to when you first signed up for social media sites like Facebook, you probably put in information about yourself that seemed safe. Your birthday and home town seem innocent enough. Plus, a little information about your job or, if you're in the military, where you're stationed.
But all that information is useful to scammers trying to steal your ID. The Better Business Bureau asks social media users to report Facebook scams and other social media scams to them. But there's more you can do to protect yourself from having your ID stolen.
Besides reporting scams to the BBB after they've occurred, you also need to be proactive. You need to check your social media profiles, and get rid of information that scammers can use to steal your ID, according to a professor at the University of South Florida.
Here's what he recommends you do:
- Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know, even if they know people you know
- Don't include your birthday, address, or phone number on your profile
- Frequently update your privacy settings; make sure you put restrictions on who can request that you be their friend
As you share Thanksgiving photos with your family and friends on Facebook this weekend, be on the lookout for scammers. Plus, when you have a moment, review your profile and privacy settings. It can save you headaches down the road.