That narcissistic rant about your boss is not the only stupid post you can make on Facebook.
Seemingly innocuous information like your birthday, where you went to elementary school or your pet's name can be a gold mine for identity thieves.
"Facebook is being used to gather intelligence to crack the code of a password reset," said Robert Siciliano, a Boston-based identity theft expert and McAfee consultant.
For example, when you open an online banking account, you'll give answers to security questions the bank will ask should you forget your password -- queries like where you met your wife, your high school, your place of birth.
"The answers to those questions are in your Facebook account," Siciliano said.
Collecting that information on Facebook is legal, and less exhausting than rifling through somebody's trash can.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling warns that social media accounts can be ground zero for identity thieves. "Even listing daily activities can let strangers know your routine and put you at risk," spokeswoman Gail Cunningham said.
All someone needs is your name, birthday and a few other pieces of information to open that new credit card account in your name.
Jeremy Miller of Kroll Fraud Solutions in Nashville, Tenn., said a person's birthday is one-third of what thieves consider the holy trinity of personal information, used to open accounts, rent homes and gain employment under your name.
Miller suggests omitting your birthday on a social networking site -- or at least exclude your entire birth date.
"If they can get enough information ... that allows them to apply for credit in your name ... then of course they can run up all sorts of expenses," said Russell James, director of graduate studies in Texas Tech University's personal financial planning department.
For James, the simple solution is a credit freeze. That would make it nearly impossible to open an account in your name -- even if someone swiped your Social Security number. It costs $10 -- $5 for seniors -- to place a freeze with each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If you're a victim of identity theft, the alert is free.
A credit freeze can be lifted upon your request.
Meanwhile, resist that urge to share every shred of information on social media sites.
"My Facebook page is all business -- no kids' names, pet names," Siciliano said. "It's not just friends that look at your Facebook page, but maybe a potential employer. ... Your Facebook page is only as secure as your next friend or family member you are connected to. So security in social media is an illusion."
To avoid becoming an ID theft victim on Facebook:
Don't "friend" people you don't know. Instead, treat your friends online as you would offline. Get to know them before you share your life.
Don't ignore privacy settings. When your privacy settings are configured to share with everyone, your Facebook information is publicly available, in some cases even to search engines
Don't overshare. Don't broadcast information used to answer "secret questions" asked by banks or other account holders.
Don't compromise your Facebook user name and password. Once a thief can access your account, he can exploit your relationships for financial gain. Use a different user name and password for each key online account.
Don't click on a weird link sent by a friend: Thieves who take over Facebook accounts often post links to deals intended to trick friends into providing information that they then can use to commit more financial crimes.
Freeze your credit:
Placing a credit freeze with each of three credit reporting bureaus prevents somebody from opening a new account in your name. To place a freeze, contact the credit bureaus:
Equifax: 888-766-0008 or www.equifax.com
TransUnion: 888-909-8872 or www.transunion.com
Experian: 888-397-3742 or www.experian.com
(Contact David Benda at the Redding Record Searchlight in California
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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