Beware of Identity Theft

As I recently announced, I have profiles on three communities – Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.

Personally, I find Facebook to be the best as it’s interactive and I’ve been enjoying the small things that my friends and I do to keep in contact. It’s fun. MySpace and Bebo are just places to set up profiles. Once that’s done you can easily forget both these websites and just get on with whatever it is you’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with this either. We live busy lives, so we don’t need another distraction.

This morning I heard a warning on the news about identity theft. A group of people deliberately set up a false profile on Facebook and then randomly invited 100 strangers to become friends. They took the birth date and hometown of one of those people and opened a bank account in that person’s name, and then they applied for a credit card and got it! They then announced how easy it was done and, hence, the warning on the news.

But what if that group were actually real drop kicks and went further. Where would that live the man whose profile provided them with the information they needed to set up the bank account etc? He would probably be able to prove the identity theft, but it all takes time and does he really need the aggravation and stress from the whole sordid affair? I doubt it.

Of course, you are in control of the information shown on your profiles. You don’t have to show your birthday or where you actually live…and I advise you not to do so. Usually, only “friends” can see these things (but not always, so be careful to check your settings), however, if you accept “friends” that you don’t know and trust then you are opening yourself to trouble.

Personally, I rarely show my date of birth and if I do I never show the year I was born. And I’m very careful never to mention the town in which I live. Besides, not many people know my real name online anyway.

Whatever you do, and whatever you may feel comfortable with, please be careful about the information you share online. Sure, we do tend to build “relationships” with each other and that’s a good thing, but what about all those nameless visitors who visit your site? You know nothing about them and they could live anywhere in the world.

Some things should always remain private.

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