Social networking sites: A favorite hunting ground for identity thieves

July 23, 2007

A favorite hunting ground for identity thievesExperts are warning users of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook about posting personal information, as these sites are becoming hunting grounds for identity thieves.

A study conducted in the UK by online identity consultants Garlik found that more than 33% of Internet users post sensitive personal details on social networking sites. This finding, coupled with the sites’ overwhelming popularity, make social networking sites an excellent place for identity thieves to source personal information.

Most people don’t realize the danger of posting sensitive personal information online. They don’t even have a clear idea on what constitutes sensitive information. Experts say identity thieves only need a small amount of personal information posted online in order to take over an identity, obtain loans and open credit card accounts.

Some social networking sites offer absolutely no privacy protection. They leave it up to their users not to post anything they don’t want the online world to know. Others have privacy settings in-place and encourage users to protect sensitive information they don’t want to share with the general online community, but often users choose not to use these privacy options.

Even with the privacy settings in-place, social networking sites are still vulnerable to being hacked.

Internet experts believe that the advice “never post sensitive personal information online” is still the best line of defense. Until people start following such advice, social networking sites will stay a favorite target for identity thieves.

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