Westchester attorney says social networks offer up Christmas gifts for identity thieves

‘Tis the season for giving – we open our hearts, our minds, our pocketbooks…………and thanks to social media, we open our lives to the world.  However, when is enough too much?  I see it happening more and more at an alarming rate, especially on Facebook.  My friends love broadcasting their lives to cyberspace:  birthdays; hometowns; high schools; relatives; and listing all of their relatives.  The biggest thing now seems to be telling everyone the names of your parents, especially if they’re on Facebook so that it is now a truly incestuous little network.

OK, STOP RIGHT THERE.  Are you people insane?  Almost every secure bit of information about you is tied into three things:  your birthdate; your mother’s maiden name; and your social security number.  Often, your “hint question” for data retrieval is also your hometown and/or high school mascot.  Congratulations!  By wrapping it all up and tying it with a neat little bow on Facebook, you have just made it that much easier for identity thieves to steal your lives.

Trust me.  I am an investigative reporter, still, at heart.  I can find anything about almost anyone in most corners of the globe.  I honed those skills over 20 years as a journalist.  The only people who can likely trump my sleuthing abilities are those with nefarious purposes like identity thieves.

The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Now, you are making it that much easier.

Let me put it in simpler terms – erase the personal data and contact info from your social networking profiles.  The friends and relatives who know your birthday and your Mom’s name will wish you a happy birthday anyway.  The people who don’t know you – well, do you really care if strangers and acquaintances are going to make your day?  Are we 12 and crave that much attention?  I am suggesting that the best New Year’s resolution you can make is to use social networks like Facebook and Twitter for promoting businesses or reconnecting with old business acquaintances and friends and leave the personal data for those closest to you IRL (in real life).

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