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5 ways your social media can leave you open to identity fraud

With so much of our lives spent online these days, your social media profile can easily become a hotbed for criminals on the hunt for your details.


Check your credit report

Regularly monitoring your credit report is one of the simplest ways to spot early signs of identity fraud.

See my report

More than 71% of Australians have an active social media account. And with so much of our lives spent online these days, your social media profile can easily become a hotbed for criminals on the hunt for your details. From accepting friend requests from seemingly harmless strangers to sharing far-flung holiday photos, find out what’s putting you at risk and learn how to change your social media habits to protect yourself.

1. Accepting social connections from strangers

It’s not uncommon for scammers to use social media to make their approaches more personal. Criminals aren’t stupid; the more they know about you, the easier it is to impersonate you. And they can learn a lot about you from your profiles, such as your friends and families’ names, where you live and what you do on the weekends.

Using this information, they could try to connect with you as a friend or romantic interest (both Instagram and Facebook are breeding grounds for dating scams). They do this in the hope that you’ll grow to trust them and, in turn, offer up more of your personal information which they can use against you. They might also try to sell you fake shopping deals, competitions or investment opportunities they think will appeal to you, to get you to part with your money.

The bottom line is: never accept social connection requests from people you don’t know or trust.

2. Exposing too much of yourself

Fraudsters can use the information you post online to piece together your identity in order to apply for credit or buy things in your name. For example, they might try to locate your maiden name, date of birth or pet’s name - all of these are commonly used for passwords which they could attempt to crack to access your accounts.

You also put yourself at risk of identity theft when you post updates of your activities and day to day life on social media. If you post a photo of yourself on holiday, it won’t take a criminal long to work out that your house is empty and ready to be burgled. As well as expensive items like jewellery and electronics, criminals might also take documents containing your personal and banking information (such as utility bills) during the break in. Using the seemingly innocent information lying around your home, it wouldn’t take long for someone to commit identity fraud in your name.

While sharing photos and updates can be a great way to keep in touch with loved ones, try to limit how much information is publicly available on your social media sites.

3. Not checking your privacy settings

If you haven’t checked your privacy settings recently, it’s worth doing so now (it only takes a few minutes).

We suggest you keep your settings as private as possible. For example, only allow people you’re connected with to view your profile photo, date of birth and city. You can also control who’s able to send you friend requests, view your posts and see your connections.

If your privacy settings aren’t secure, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to fraudsters being able to dig into your personal life without you knowing about it.

4. Providing too much information to third-party apps

It’s important to be careful when you’re allowing third-party apps access to your social media accounts. For example, when you play an online game or rent a holiday home, the company might ask for your permission to access or link with your social media profile.

Before you consent, make sure that the request is coming from a reputable company. Even then, it’s sensible to enter as little personal information as possible. By doing this, you’re minimising how much of your personal data could be impact if the app was to fall victim to a security breaches (like when Facebook faced a $1 billion fine for breaching Australian privacy law).

5. Using the same password for multiple accounts

Avoid using the same password for your social media accounts as you do for other accounts - particularly your email account. Once someone has access to this, they have the potential to unlock hundreds of your other accounts and change the passwords on your behalf, so only they have access.

It’s best to change your passwords regularly and make sure they’re as long and complex as possible. If you need some inspiration, have a read of our article which outlines some password generators and tips for creating strong, unique passwords.

And set up two-factor authentication (2FA) if possible. This is usually available for sites containing your personal or sensitive information, such as mobile banking apps, social media platforms and ClearScore. With 2FA, you’ll be asked to enter a code sent to your mobile phone as well as your password when you try to log in, adding an extra layer of security to your account.

Set up 2FA on your ClearScore account now - it’s quick, free and simple to do.

If you think you’ve fallen victim to identity theft or fraud, get help as soon as possible to prevent any further damage.


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