Social networking sites an open invitation to identity thieves, says Veda Advantage
27 August 2007 – LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The surge in popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo has increased the risk of identity fraud according to Veda Advantage, the largest custodian of credit information in New Zealand.
Veda Advantage NZ Country Director John Roberts says, ““We have noticed people are posting personal information on these sites that you would not ordinarily share with strangers; phone numbers, address, place of employment, date of birth and so on. By putting that kind of detail in the public domain, people are making themselves more vulnerable to identity fraud.”
To protect against identity fraud, Mr Roberts recommends users of social network sites take the following precautions:
– Thoroughly familiarise yourself with how a site functions – how accessible/transparent is it?
– Reconsider the amount of detail you reveal about yourself online
– Don’t post information you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with a stranger
– Set privacy parameters to the maximum possible to ensure access to personal details is heavily restricted
– Be wary of ‘friend requests’ and attempts to contact you directly through a site by unfamiliar persons
– As a last line of defence, go to www.mycreditalert.co.nz to set up a monitor on your credit file which will raise an alert against fraudulent use of identity to obtain credit
Mr Roberts says, “The social media phenomenon has given people a new and exciting way to communicate, but it is important to remember that any data posted online is often insecure. ID thieves are highly creative and resourceful, and need very little information in order to steal your identity. They can take out loans, credit cards, even mortgages in your name without you knowing at the time. Unless you take the necessary precautions, subsequent payment defaults can impact on your personal credit reputation.”
Mr Roberts’ comments come at the start of the Privacy Commission’s Privacy Awareness Week. The week runs from 26 August to 1 September, and is aimed at raising public awareness of privacy-related issues such as identity crime, a problem Veda Advantage has taken a lead role in combating.