Identity theft is a large, pervasive, and growing problem. In fact, statistics show that the instances of identity theft jumped a staggering 57% last year alone, this, according to figures from the fraud-prevention service Cifas.
The firm’s research into the increase of identity theft found that much of the growth has seen fraudsters targeting a younger demographic (ages 30 and under), with 24,000 victims in this age group in 2015, compared with 15,766 in 2014, and 11,000 victims in this age group in 2010.
In order to successfully assume a person’s identity, the first order of business is to obtain as much personal information as possible. This, in turn, invariably leads someone with decent investigative skills to be able to guess at or intuit passwords, and ultimately, take control of one’s identity and financial assets.
Unfortunately, the rise in popularity of social media platforms has made much of this information readily accessible, and hackers and fraudsters now regularly troll those waters in an attempt to glean the personal information needed to take someone’s identity.
You can find first and last names, mothers’ maiden names, addresses, educational background, friends, relatives, names of pets, birthdays, and a whole host of other, related information.
With so much of our lives online and readily accessible, it’s important to be aware, be vigilant, and be mindful of who can see your personal information and how much is visible to a wider audience. How long has it been since you checked or updated your privacy settings on Facebook? Is your personal profile set to public, or private? How many of your friends are actual friends or basically unknown to you?
Now might be an excellent time to review all of the above to be sure that only people you know and trust have unfettered access to your personal life. Social media is fantastic, but it also exposes you to greater risk than you might realize.