How much are you giving away to fraudsters on Facebook?

How much personal information are you giving fraudsters access to on Facebook? Are you giving them enough information to steal your identity?

Information Age reported recently that an online survey conducted by YouGov in the UK had found that almost 30% of adults with social media accounts “include their full name and date of birth on their profiles” – that’s two of the three key pieces of information a fraudster needs to steal your identity.

The third? Your address, as a recent post by Action Fraud in the UK reveals:

All it takes is your name, date of birth and address for fraudsters to steal your identity and access your bank accounts, take out loans or take out mobile phones in your name.

But deterring fraudsters might not be as simple as just hiding this information in your profile. They can still work out when you were born from the birthday messages posted on your timeline. And even if they don’t know where you live, they could be able to find that out from your name and date of birth. An article in The Telegraph reveals how.

Online directories hold huge quantities of information – from addresses, phone numbers and even a list of your past and present housemates. This can all be pieced together to assume your identity.

Armed with these three key pieces of information, fraudsters can obtain fake identification documents such as a replica passports over the internet. The Telegraph article reveals that “a fake British passport costs £550. Those who want an additional bogus driving licence can get both for £720.”

Fake documentation then opens the doors to loans, credit cards, mobile phones and more – all taken out in your name.

So what should you do?

Back in January we shared some tips on securing your social media profile in Social media security is not just for kids – how safe are your profiles?  Robert Schifreen, himself an ex-hacker and the founder of SecuritySmart, shared some great tips in that post, including “It’s OK to lie about birthday and location – just keep a note of what you said in case you ever need to confirm with the network in question.”

We also talked about those links that tie you to other members of your family? They can reveal who your parents, siblings or nieces and nephews are – and that could make your mother’s maiden name easy to decipher. How many times you’ve been asked for that when you need to reset a password?

Too many of us are unwittingly putting ourselves at risk by sharing too much information on social media sites such as Facebook. We should all heed the sound advice shared by John Marsden, head of ID and fraud at Equifax in an article in the Belfast News Letter:

Be social savvy; avoid unnecessarily sharing personal details and risking your identity on platforms that can so easily be exploited. It’s always nice to receive well wishes on your birthday – but is it worth the risk?

If you don’t really know who can access your personal information on Facebook, do something about it today.