Facebook con artists on the rise

Leaving your social network profiles public could leave friends and colleagues at risk of fraudulent acts

1 2 Page 2
Page 2 of 2

"When you sign onto a financial website, there are often challenge questions that have answers only you should know the answer to," he explains. But if you use a pet name as the answer to a challenge question and you post photos of that pet -- with its name -- to a social network, lots of people know the answer. If you leave your profile public, finding the answer to that question is much too easy.

"You have to be mindful of this and savvy about the sort of information you are sharing on social networks," he says.

The study also points out that more than 24 million Americans age 18 or older leave their social network profiles mostly public; more of these were men (28 percent) than women (15 percent). This probably isn't out of ignorance, though, because 97 percent of respondents said they knew that their profile is public.

What can you do? Get out a soapbox and start proselytizing at the office? Become that paranoid dude who is always ranting on about the dangers of social networking? Sure. That's a good idea. You might want to get accustomed to eating lunch alone, too.

Oscherwitz also suggests a plan that's less damaging to your own social life: Direct people to the ID Analytics tool that assesses your identity fraud risk factor, My ID Score. This Web tool asks some personal questions of its own -- address, phone number, and birthdate are required -- to do this. Then it asks some -- startlingly detailed, I thought -- challenge questions to determine your identity. But it gives you back a real-time assessment of the information that's out there about you and how high your personal risk of identity fraud is.

According to the site, it does this by "leveraging time-tested, patented technologies that identify suspicious or unusual relationships among billions of basic identity elements within the ID Network -- the nation's only real-time, cross-industry compilation of identity information." If it sees an abnormal amount of credit applications, for example, originating from your address, it ups your risk score. But if, say, your identity hasn't been associated with suspicious activity, it lowers the score.

It's a good idea, suggests Oscherwitz to make a habit of checking this score periodically. Because privacy settings seem to change hourly at some social networks, drop a note on your calendar to check your social network privacy setting with the same frequency (or more often if you ignore these tasks the way I do) you check the filters on your HVAC and the oil in your car.

Got gripes or questions? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com.

This story, "Facebook con artists on the rise," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Christina Tynan-Wood's Gripe Line blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 Page 2
Page 2 of 2
How to choose a low-code development platform