Protect Your Social Security Number

March 2011

Introduction

Over the last few years, social networks have become extremely popular among people of all ages; yet, social network privacy settings are often ignored. Identity thieves take advantage of this to gain the personal information of others to illegally use for their own benefit. It is even possible for skilled identity thieves to guess your social security number just by using the information listed on your profile on social networks. It is important to take proper precautions to protect your privacy and secure your social security number on your social network profiles.

Protect Your Privacy on Social Networking Sites

Identity thieves use a number of different scams on social networks. If you ever receive a message on a social network from someone claiming they are representing a company and that you are entitled to money or a prize, chances are it is a scam. Never give any personal information out over a social network for any reason, especially your Social Security number. Remember, no upstanding company would ever ask you for your personal information over a social network, so do not fall for these types of scams. Also, always make sure that the URL of the social network is correct before entering your username or password. Many identity thieves create false websites that look very similar to a legitimate site, but these false websites are only created to steal your username and password so thieves can try gain access to your other accounts.

Protect Personal Information on Your Profile

On many social networking websites, you can give out as much personal information as you wish. Avoid doing this. In fact, share as little personal information as possible on your social network profiles. Identity thieves look for personal information they can potentially use to steal your identity. Even if the information listed on your profile is not enough to allow full access to your identity, it can be an easy starting point for identity thieves.

Hide Your Birthday

Skilled identity thieves sometimes need nothing more than your birthday and the area you live in to guess your Social Security number. Because of this, it is important to hide your birthday from strangers on social network profiles. Leaving off the year you were born greatly reduces the chance of an identity thief guessing your Social Security number. Without a birth year, it is much harder for identity thieves to gather enough information to be able to steal your identity. If your birthday is listed on your profile, consider removing your hometown from your profile, as this can also help identity thieves guess your Social Security number.