Almost everyone is on at least one popular social networking site, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Myspace. These social networking sites provide you with an easy way to share all the details of your life on the Internet.

Posting pictures of your friends and family is questionable, depending on the nature of them. What you want to avoid is sharing the kind of personal information that may result in having your insurance canceled, or even worse yet, placing your home at risk of a break-in.

Avoid sharing your birth date and place on your social networking site. These small, simple details may seem harmless, but they could provide identity thieves with a way to access your social insurance number and apply for credit in your name.

Announcing your vacation plans on the Internet is an invitation for thieves to break into your home. Try not to let your excitement of going on holiday get in the way of common sense. Only your close friends and family should know about your travel plans.

Providing your full home address online is another way for thieves to potentially break into your home. Remember to leave out any personal information that gives away where you live and when you.re not home. If you do need to provide your contact details, sharing your email address is your safest bet.

Negative opinions about your job or boss are best kept well away from your social networking site. Posting a malicious comment or lie that relates to your professional career could result in some serious consequences, such as losing your job and damaging your professional reputation.

Some online accounts ask you to supply answers to specific security questions before you log into your account. Avoid providing your answers to these security questions on your social networking site because cyber thieves could use this information to hack into your account.

Sharing your love of high-risk activities that may include driving motorcycles, hand gliding or car racing is something that you shouldn’t boast about on your social networking site. Life insurance companies, as well as other insurers, are searching personal websites to determine how much of a risk their clients are. They also raise their rates according to what they find about you online.

23 Comments
  1. This is a great post. I believe that is it important that we don’t share specific details we want other to know about, on the internet. It can fall into the wrong hands, like our boss seeing we drank and partied last night.

    On the other hand, Social networks, is all about being social. Sharing experiences and places you went is a great way to connect with similar people. just give them a vague definition of where you are going, like the beach.

  2. I try not to put my home address anywhere on the Internet for that very reason, and I dislike putting my place as well, which is why I’m suspicious of apps like FourSquare.

  3. Thanks for the information. It’s definitely a good idea not to share your full birthday or place of address, especially if you have a large social network. One reason I use Facebook is to connect with activism and protests in my area, and now I know what not to put on my profile.

  4. I noticed how in most of the articles you put an emphasis on “identity theft” and I really must thank you for that because by describing it or even mentioning it in most of articles readers become more curious and want to know what it is.

  5. Aside from avoiding identity theft, I haven’t really used Facebook just because I’m starting to have an aversion against announcing every little thing I do. Also, if you don’t want people to know some websites you’ve been visiting, don’t Like or post on those sites with your Facebook account.

  6. This is a great post and I hope the defaulters learn something from this. Since, I’ve been using social networks I’ve always been careful about what I share because they just can be used against one. But its so sad that some people just get over excited to do things they shouldn’t be doing on Social Networks.

    In addition to the above, I think people should upload less pictures, they should avoid lying, avoid talking about their personal lives, talk less. They should avoid exchanging too much messages, especially implicating ones. Lastly, People should learn to see Social Networks as real life, and know that whatever they do on them has consequences as well. And the consequences would either make or mar them.

  7. In this age of social connectivity, many persons do not apply common sense when sharing information on social networking sites. Like you said above it is very risky sharing information that can be used to locate your residence. Safety should always be the first consideration when using social networking sites. Thanks for the great advise

  8. I completely agree with the act that insurance companies will go at amazing lenghts to make more money. I use Facebook more than any other social network. I always try to restrain the availability of my posts. You can choose wheter it is public or reserved to friends or friends of friends. I think that may reduce the risk I am exposing myself to.

  9. Oh my…. My birthday is posted in most of my social networking accounts and I’ve been answering secret questions all the time. I can take out my birthdays but how do I avoid answering secret questions? I think people have no choice in the matter because answering these secret questions are required to open an account. I have also provided my home address in some websites because they were required. I don’t post too many pictures. For most part, it is other people who posts pictures of me and they just tag me. Thanks for enlightening me regarding this matter.

  10. One should never forget that there is always the risk that something you share or do online (no matter where and when) will stay there forever We see in the news what’s possible with technology and we’re just at the start of it all.

    I hope this article will make some people think about it, David. The virtual world is real too and with being real it can cause real effects.

  11. I share a lot of ideas in my Facebook and Twitter accounts, but not really pieces of personal information. I guess I’m safe in here. Okay, the only pictures posted in there are either the history of my display pictures or the nonsense photos I share. I guess, that’s pretty all right, too. These social networking sites can be real helpful in making interactions way easier than before, but these can’t be trusted 100%. You should keep your private life private after all.

  12. This is a great article that more people need to read, people are reckless about what they share on social media. People have become accustomed to sharing everything in their lives on social media and I hope that it is a trend that stops.

  13. These days many people do not hesitate to post exactly what they are doing and where their doing it. I doubt people will even think twice on posting their age and birth date. Pretty much every one I know post about their vacation plans on Facebook saying “going to Florida for a month and what not.” It was very interesting learning about how cyber theif can use your special security question to hack into your account and steal info.

    • I think it is young people that tend to make these mistakes. Older people aren’t so keen on sharing every little detail of their lives online. You get a sort of savvy quality to you when you age. You aren’t as open with strangers as you were when you were dating. You aren’t as trusting as you were when you were eager to develop relationships with potential friends or lovers.

  14. Yes, this has been a very enlightening article. I greatly appreciate it, David.

    I have always been cautious about what I share on Facebook. Other than my profile photo I haven’t put up any photos on Facebook, for instance. I also don’t reveal my present location or birth date. I have long had these concerns.

    I didn’t know about insurance companies using what they find on social networking sites to assess risk. That was a new one for me, and it’s good to know. I’m not into any high risk activities, actually, so I don’t need to make any changes.

    I continue to be astonished, though, at how much people share on these sites. There have been so many well-publicized instances of people losing their jobs, for instance, over what they posted on Facebook or elsewhere. But I do believe people get swept up in the moment, and besides, this kind of excessive sharing is pretty much considered normal these days. It’s unfortunate that people do not pause to reflect upon future repercussions.

  15. That is a great point about life insurance companies looking at social networks to uncover risky behaviors. I never thought of that. Please, NEVER post about your vacation plans. Thieves will monitor your social networks and use posts like that as an opportunity to rob you. I don’t post pictures of family either. Some things are best left off of social networks all together. In fact, social networking might not even be worth the time and effort that we invest in it.

  16. Oh this one is very important one. Social media websites are not to expose all of your business because the whole world can see it and can know who you are without knowing you personally. However some people post all their routines on social media sites leading themselves to be prey for criminals. It is quite difficult not to share your business because people always want to express how they feel but there should be limits in how you use these sites.

  17. Great advice. I believe we should add only people we personally know as friends on social networking websites. We can create an alternative account for our internet friends and online clients. Also, playing around with the privacy settings can be immensely helpful. One should always keep information accessible only to ‘friends’ and not to anyone else and must remember not to add random people as friends. Writing hate speech and anti-government material should be avoided as well, otherwise one can risk their job, their image, their respect and may also have legal issues. We must think twice before sharing anything on social media.

  18. Sharing information about your work is very risky especially for our job and was specifically sited by our company to avoid. Which for me, has to be done in all companies as it will just translate to your etiquette.

    I think for one, people should have a full 5 minute video with the how to’s , do’s and don’t on using social media before they are allowed to enter sites like that. People have always been very obliviuos and reckless with what they post not even knowing that it might be used against them.

  19. The entire article served as a reminder to key points about the risks of participating in social networking and sharing too much information. I think sometimes we get too comfortable online and believe that something wouldn’t happen to us and live on those delusions until something does potentially happen. Readers were brought right back to reality the way this was well detailed, bringing up topics of possibilities like home invasion, identity theft, employment troubles, insurance issues and the like. Fantastic post, David.

  20. I no longer use Facebook, I completely deleted my real Facebook account last year. I haven’t regretted it. I still have a Facebook account tho, but I only use it for games and I don’t post anything related to my life or family there. I use a fake name as well. Not so long ago I found out that sharing too many things on there was and still is a bad idea, NEVER again!

  21. There are some people who though all this info has been around for a while aren’t smart enough not to share some things on social media. Share a photo of you and your family on vacation is tantamount to telling the whole world you are not at home. And as not all your “friends” are good people they could take advantage of your absence to steal anything they want from your house.

    Never ever let anyone know you are not home. If you are traveling then post anything that will make most people believe you are home.

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