The RCMP are reminding internet users that social media is a great way to stay connected, but it’s also a great tool for fraudsters to steal your personal information.
Social media identity fraud is the process of faking or using someone else’s information on the internet for inappropriate means. As an example, some people provide their full birth date, employer, and phone number on a social networking site. This is just some of the information a potential fraudster can use to steal your identity.
Cpl. Lou Hochhuld of the Nova Scotia RCMP Tech Crime Unit warns, “Social media gives fraudsters the opportunity to hack an online profile for personal information and then pose as that person in real life. The consequences are tremendous and unfortunately, we’ve seen cases where people were not even aware it was happening to them.”
To avoid becoming a victim of social media identity fraud, avoid posting this information online:
– Birth date, home address, telephone number(s), or email addresses
– Children’s names or schools
– Employment details like work schedule and specific details of when you’ll be absent from home on business trips or vacations.
Here are some other useful tips to keep safe when interacting through social media:
– Do not accept “friend requests” from unknown people.
– Be aware when posting pictures of your home or valuables. This can provide a criminal with the location of doors and windows.
– Remember that when you post photos, anyone viewing your profile can lift your photos and use them for their own purposes.
– Use different passwords for each online profile, including social media, banking, and email accounts. Remember to mix upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols when creating a password.
– Never post when your home will be vacant.
– If you find someone who is guilty of creating a fraudulent social media profile, immediately report them to the Terms of Service group on the social media website.
– If you feel your social media account has been compromised, delete it and report it; another account can be created to replace it later.
Cpl. Hochhuld says, “Use your discretion when using social media. Remember, you’re the only person who can control the strength of your privacy settings.”
Throughout the month of March, Nova Scotia RCMP will be highlighting tips and information to help reduce your chances of being victimized by fraud and keep you safe from scammers. Topics covered will include telephone scams, credit and debit card fraud and counterfeit goods.