Identity Theft and Social Media: 7 Tips to Protect Your Finances

In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, Laura gives you seven tips to stay connected with family and friends on social media as safely as possible so ordinary details you share won't be used by cyber thieves to hurt your personal finances.

Laura Adams, MBA
8-minute read
Episode #469

Identity Theft and Social Media—7 Tips to Protect Your FinancesOctober is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to reevaluate how you’re using social media and to be mindful of its potential risks.

You’ve probably used social media to check in with friends at your favorite restaurant, say bon voyage before heading out on vacation, or to share your birth date. What we love about social platforms, dishing out information about ourselves and our families, is precisely what makes it so dangerous.

Problem is, ordinary details about your life could be used maliciously by cyber thieves to hurt your personal finances. In this post I’ll tell you how to stay connected with family and friends on social media as safely as possible.

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Identify Theft and Social Media

As I mentioned, sharing personal information comes with risks. You can easily give away enough personal data on social media to compromise your privacy and even become vulnerable to identity theft.

Just by viewing your Facebook profile, a mediocre hacker can scrape data like your name, email address, phone number, friends’ profiles, and current location in a few minutes. Each social media site has a privacy policy, but you have to be proactive about how your account is set up and what information you share.

In this article I’ll focus on steps to update your Facebook security. If you’re active on other social sites, like Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, check out this article for more privacy settings.

Use these seven tips to manage your Facebook account the right way:

Tip #1: Check your audience before posting on Facebook

Each time you create a Facebook post, see what your audience will be and adjust it as needed before hitting the “Post” button.

When you click in the status field where it says “What’s on your mind?” there’s a button with a drop-down menu just to the left of the “Post” button. That drop-down allows you to choose who sees your posts.

You can share posts with the public, which means anyone on or off Facebook. That’s the worst option because a cybercriminal could easily get potentially harmful data about you.

A better option is to share posts with your Facebook friends only. Or even to a custom audience that you create, such as your coworkers or friends who are not acquaintances.

If you don’t want the privacy of your posts to be set on a case-by-case basis, make it universal for your account. To update or double check your settings, click on the down arrow at the top right corner of your Facebook page, choose “Settings” and then “Privacy” on the left side bar.

There are 3 sections of the Privacy settings that you should make as secure as possible. For the section titled “Who can see my stuff?”, set it to “Friends” or to a custom subset of Friends that you create. As I mentioned, that makes it much more difficult for an identity thief to see your personal information.

See also: 6 Simple Tools to Protect Your Privacy and Prevent Identity Theft


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.