Prevent Identity Theft on Social Networks

Learn to protect your Facebook or MySpace account and prevent identity theft

Social networking sites have become easy prey for identity thieves. But don't worry; we've got some tips to keep you safe while you socially network! Learn how identity theft occurs with networking sites and ways to prevent identity theft from happening to you.

The work is being done and the word is getting out

Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute studied 12 social networking sites and their practices regarding their users. The 12 sites studied were Bobo, Digg, Facebook, Friendster, Hi, Imeem, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, MySpace, Orkut, Twitter, Xanga.

From this study, the researchers learned that social networks are leaking user's personal information to third-party tracking sites. Personal information is information that traces an individual's identity either alone or combined with other public information.

How do thieves get your personal information?

So, you're wondering, how exactly do identity thieves steal your personal information from your Facebook or Myspace page? That is a common question and one that's not too obvious to people who aren't computer nerds.

Research shows that the networking sites tag each user in order to access the user's personal profile -- necessary for the operation of the site. The problem comes in when third-party tracking sites obtain the user's tag and tracks the user.

This happens quite easily when a social networking site communicates with third party tracking sites through banners placed on the user's screen; this also communicates the users tag. The third party now has the user's tag and access to their personal profile.

How can you prevent this from happening to you?

To prevent identity theft, follow these tips:

-- Limit the amount of personal information you put on your profile.

-- Only list information that is necessary to socialize with your friends.

-- Don't list personal information like your home address, phone number, or birthday

-- Use the network's privacy controls

-- Restrict your personal information only to your closest friends

-- Use browser security to refuse third party cookies

According to Consumer's Reports, approximately 13% of social networking site users have had some violation of their personal information. Take steps to prevent identity theft by following the tips above. Your social networking site should be fun; keep it that way and prevent identity theft.

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