Love it or hate it, chances are you’re on it. It seems like everyone is “Facebooking” these days: parents, grandparents, employers and now…insurance agents? Find out how Facebook could affect not only your social life but also your bank account.
1. Birthday: April, 20, 2008
When it comes to sharing your birthday on your profile take the same approach as your mother: Never reveal your true age. It may seem innocent enough, but many of your medical and financial records are tracked by your birthdate, location and age. Hackers trying to steal your identity will have an easier time if they have access to that information. If you don’t want to part with the “Happy Birthday!!!” wall posts, you can keep up the day you were born but take down location and year.
Beth Givens, executive director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse told MoneyWatch.com, “A study done by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — and sometimes all — of the numbers in your Social Security number.”
Is having information up for your friends and family to see worth the risk of having your social security number in the hands of a stranger?
How to Fix It:
- Go to the “Info” tab on your profile page.
- Click “Edit” in your “About Me” section.
- You have the ability to omit your hometown and current city.
- To the right of your birthday there should be a scroll bar. Choose either “Show only month and day” or “Don’t show my birthday in my profile.”
2. MyBankTracker is (insert-inappropriately-revealing-status-update-here)
People have become desensitized to privacy in our highly digital and technologically invasive society. Everyone has heard the horror stories of people writing status updates that have come back to haunt them in one way or another, but you may be revealing things you didn’t even realize.
Have you ever had a countdown to a vacation? Or talked about your excitement for a weekend trip? Do not, under any circumstances, share your vacation plans. This is an open invitation for criminals to come and do some shoplifting in your very own living room. If you still want share, post the cute family photos of you sunbathing on the beach after you return home.
More and more employers are checking out Facebook profiles before they hire. Even if you enable privacy settings for people within your network, your future employer may know someone who went to college with you or lives in your neighborhood, allowing them access to your page. If you are already hired that gives you more incentives not to take out the stress of work on your status. Pretend that everything you put on your site is public information whether you block it or not.
How to Fix It:
- You should monitor everything you put up. If you write a status update and can think of one person you wouldn’t want seeing it, i.e. a friend, family member, coworker, or criminal — do not post it.
- To make your profile more private: Click on “Account” in the top right-hand corner of the Facebook homepage and scroll down to “Privacy Settings.”
- Within the “Sharing on Facebook” section click “Custom.” This will show what is shared and how others see your page. We advise making sure there are dots under “Friends Only.” Click “Customize Settings” to make these changes.
3. What is Your Mother’s Maiden Name?
If you have ever opened a bank account or dealt with any website that requires a password you know the bizarre questions they ask to verify your login credentials. If you use your high school mascot, favorite pet, mother’s maiden name or any other fact that others might know, it will make things easier for cyber-criminals trying to guess your passwords. Make sure there is nothing on your page that relates to your password so you avoid giving out any clues.
How to Fix It:
- When protecting your profile double check: Old photos, Likes & Activities, Info about you. You may want to think about creating a new password that would be impossible to crack based off of any information you have online.
4. Contact Information
Do not post your home address or any links to it. This shouldn’t require much effort, but many people forget they have their address on their profiles. Even if you don’t have your home address on Facebook, do you have a link to your resume with your address online? Double check everything you have online and make sure never to post where you live. If a friend writes you asking for your address give them a call and say it verbally.
How to Fix It:
- DO NOT POST YOUR HOME ADDRESS.
- Do we need to repeat it again?
5. Interests: Skydiving, Motorcycles, Drinking, Smoking
More insurance agents are turning to the web to really learn about who is applying. Even if you don’t live a dangerous life photos can convey a different image. Earlier in the year, The Huffington Post reported insurance hikes among Facebook and Twitter users. Some users claimed their insurance premiums rose by nearly 10%. Even if you are a homebody or a wallflower, your friends can affect how you are viewed on Facebook.
How to Fix It:
- Get new friends (just kidding).
- One way to make sure people you are not friends with cannot see who you are friends with is by going to “Account” at the top right corner of the Facebook page and scroll down to “Privacy.”
- Click “View Settings” under “Basic Directory Information.”
- To choose what people can see via a simple Facebook search, we suggest you put “Friends Only” for: “See My Friends List,” “See My Current City and Hometown,” “See My Interests” and “Other Pages.”
Take the first steps toward avoiding oversharing on the internet by checking out 6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook, as adapted from MoneyWatch.com.