Don't reveal your full birth date on Facebook
Online social networks like Facebook and Twitter let you revive old relationships, share musings on current events and tell acquaintances about everything from your new job promotion to the cute thing your dog did.
Unfortunately, the ease of sharing information can lead some people to reveal too much. (Do you really need a daily update on the gastrointestinal upset of someone you barely know?)
But the danger of over-revelation leads beyond mere social faux pas. More than half of adults who use online social networks post information that puts them at risk of cybercrime, including fraudulent credit card use, says a recent survey by Consumer Reports.
Higher fraud instances with social network users
According to the 2012 Javelin Strategy and Research's independent analysis of identity fraud report, in 2011, more than 11.6 million adults were victims of fraud, up 11 percent from the previous year. The report also found that users of social media sites such as LinkedIn, Google +, Facebook and Twitter have the highest instances of identity theft. And though the study notes that there is no proof of direct causation, it also states that more people are sharing too much sensitive information via these sites that can be used to confirm identity.
Avoid credit card fraud: Keep some information private
Risky information includes names or photos of your children, your home street address, and when you're going to be away from home on vacation.
A less obvious, but potent, risk is revealing your full birth date. Revealing the month, day, and year you were born gives ammunition to identity thieves, who can use the date to get more personal information and access to your bank and credit card accounts, says Consumer Reports. If you really want to share your birthday, just reveal the month and day -- not the year.
Besides keeping risky information to yourself, experts advise using social network privacy controls, computer security software, and strong passwords. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team says a good password includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, and it does not spell out any word in any language.
Alert credit card companies if you suspect fraud
If you think you've been a victim of credit card fraud, call your credit card companies immediately to cancel the account numbers, and contact credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
Meanwhile, go ahead and share cute stories about your dog on Facebook, but take advantage of privacy controls, keep your security software up to date, and if you wonder whether or not you should share something, you probably shouldn't.
Published 11/26/12 (Modified 11/20/13)