13 Million People Risking Identify Theft With Social Network Interaction
Almost 13 million American adults who use social networking websites like Myspace, Twitter and Facebook admit that they will accept any connection from a person of the opposite gender, regardless of actual association. This comes from a survey of 1,011 people in the U.S. Conducted by Harris Interactive. 387 of the respondents had joined a social network of some kind. Men were twice as likely to accept women’s invites if they didn’t know them. Only 7 percent of women would accept the same from a man.
Despite their willingness to give information to strangers, only half of the respondents felt that social networks do a good job of keeping personal data private. However, more than 24 million Americans allow their profiles to be set to “mostly public” or a similar setting, allowing unconnected visitors to gather most of their personal information immediately. This willingness to share can lead to serious identity risks.
Five percent of Americans will accept any and all friend requests, and adults that are members of a network feel that business contacts were more important than personal ones. This may outline a common way fraudsters connect to their victims – by appearing to be a possible business connection, many adults can be tricked into adding a scam artist that wants to harvest their information.
While you may not see anything important in the info you reveal on your profile, a scammer can use your birth date, nickname or spouse’s name to break into your bank account by finding the answers to security questions. Questions about your high school or pet’s name can be answered from your profile’s information, and could give someone access to your bank account in just a few minutes. Consumers can protect themselves by limiting personal information, only adding contacts they know personally or can verify independently, and by setting higher security settings at each network’s site.