The festive season is here and those who love to post on social media don't waste their time sharing the latest activities they are participating in, like gift exchange with family and friends or the farewell party of their jobs. We understand that social media platforms are for sharing but is necessary to take precautions and avoid oversharing not only on Holidays but also every day.
No matter your age, sometimes unconsciously you may be sharing extra data that is better not to expose because can find its way into the hands of thieves and scammers who can see you’re not at home. A fact to keep in mind is that a study conducted with 50 ex-burglars in the UK found that 78% of them used social media to identify houses whose owners were absent. This puts your belongings and your home at risk. Let´s not forget about identity thieves, they are also on the list of danger.
Believe it or not, posting personal details on social media can make it easier for criminals to learn important information about you. For example:
- Sharing pictures of your home, school, job, or hobby could inadvertently reveal that you have valuable items like art, jewelry, electronics, or desirable collections to people who might want to steal them.
- Photos or information about family members or close friends could expose their identities, and locations, or potentially make them targets.
- Information about your life or past could be used to guess your password or security questions. For example, "What was the name of your first pet?" or "Where did you go to high school?" are common security questions that attackers can frequently find the answers to with a simple social media search on their target.
See, it’s easy to become a target for thieves, scammers, and identity thieves. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help reduce the chances of accidentally oversharing and protect your privacy, as well as the privacy of your friends and family.
Consider being aware of the information you are voluntarily sharing and other information your devices might be sharing with you. Check out these 5 tips below.
It's natural to want to share the good news with your social networks, just be careful about how much you're sharing. Before posting, think twice about it, analyze the post or the story, and if is the right time to do it. This is good for two things, the first one is to protect your reputation because can affect how people treat you; and the second one is to protect your privacy, so your data don’t end up in the wrong hands.
For instance, try an Instagram search for the hashtag "driver's license," and you'll see a lot of smiling faces waving that new license, and the personal information on it, at the camera. Next time you're uploading a photo, make sure that there is absolutely no personal information in sight.
Sometimes we add people we barely know just for the rush of excitement of having a “new friend”, we are sorry to tell you, but this can end in a terrible situation because you never know people´s intentions. For that reason, we recommend you periodically review whom you've connected with on social media and consider removing anybody you don't feel comfortable sharing content.
As social media evolves, so do privacy settings. One of the easiest ways to make sure you're sharing more safely on social media is to periodically check the privacy settings and policies for the sites you're using throughout the year.
Another recommendation to consider is not creating an account for just about every website you visit. Sometimes, the option is only there to collect your personal information. Before signing up for new accounts or connecting new apps to existing ones, think about why that app or website would need your information.
Your "Current location" is sensitive information because is armed with the knowledge of where you are at a specific point in time, but it also tells them where you aren’t. This information can be just as dangerous in the hands of criminals, particularly when you post enough data to identify patterns in your daily or weekly routines.
Don't forget that most social media apps normally allow users to pinpoint their precise whereabouts with geolocation tags. Therefore, if you haven’t turned the setting off when you post a status update from your home, you may broadcast your address to the world. This can make it easier for identity thieves to use your address as one of the necessary pieces of financial data to potentially verify and steal your identity.
Now is taking a few minutes to review and adjust your privacy settings to control who can view your profile and posts. If you let your profile public, everyone can see what you post lately, so consider letting it private. Most social media platforms provide features to help users protect their privacy online. Facebook’s “Privacy Checkup tool”, for example, enables you to see what you’re sharing and with whom.
During this holiday season keep in mind that nothing shared over social media is private. Even “private” messages can easily be forwarded, screenshotted, posted, and shared elsewhere. So before oversharing on social media think about where and how your data can be used, for better or worse.
A few good questions that will help you to consider if posting or not are: Who will see this post? Is there anything in this post that gives away sensitive information? Why does this information need to be shared? If you don’t know or don’t like the answer to any of those questions, reconsider sharing it.
We sometimes forgot how important our data is, so is time to give it the care it deserves and start protecting it. This Holiday season can be a great opportunity to open an HelpYouFind.Me account to save the most important information in it. Respect for you and your data is the core of our platform. See how you can securely and easily share private data with your trusted friends and family for emergency purposes.
One of our safety features is the “Files” section where you can submit different types of documents like:
Spoiler alert: It's free to try out HYFM and there is no credit card required to start your trial account. So there's no excuse not to check it out. See how it feels to live with a little bit of extra peace of mind.
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