According to a report on identity fraud conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research, identity fraud increased by 13 percent or 11.6 million adults from 2010 to 2011. The report did not attribute the increase directly to social media, but identity theft via social media was above the average rate of 4.9 percent. LinkedIn users had the highest rate at 10.1 percent, Google+ was the next with 7 percent, Twitter had 6.3 percent and Facebook had 5.7 percent.
A social media site user was defined as an adult that used any of these sites within the past seven days. The most heavily used site is Facebook which is used by 45 percent of the U.S. adults and Google+ was the next used by 20 percent of the adults. LinkedIn was used by 7 percent of social media users.
Even though Linked In was used by fewer of social media users than the other sites, it has the highest identity theft. This could be due to the amount of information on this site on the individual. It is a job networking site which includes employers, education, and places lived. The more personal information that is made public, the easier for identify theft to occur. According to the Javelin report, 68 percent of people with public social media profiles shared their birthday information (with 45 percent sharing month, date and year); 63 percent shared their high school name; 18 percent shared their phone number; and 12 percent shared their pet’s name.
The key concern is the availability of personal data on these social media sites, which could be used as verification information to guess or reset passwords. Some of the common questions are place of birth, pet’s name, and high school name. You should be very protective with personal information you provide on social media sites. Not everyone who reviews your information is a friend, relative or potential employer. There are identity thieves searching for information that can be used to steal your identity and/or access your bank accounts.
Credit Reporting Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. Follow him on Twitter here.