While it hasn't been around that long, social media has become an important part of many lives. Unfortunately, that means that commonsense rules and habits haven't had a lot of time to take root. And that's where thieves and scammers enter the picture.
Social media apps sometimes use data such as your personal history, birthplace, current location and list of friends and family to tailor content you might enjoy. Unfortunately, criminals can use that information to target you in their illegal schemes. For instance, if you post on Instagram that you're enjoying a beautiful vacation in Europe and your privacy settings allow anyone to follow you, they know your home is empty.
Fortunately, most apps allow you to control who sees your posts and who doesn't. These privacy settings can help make sure only people you know and trust can see your location, what you're driving, what you're eating, how cute your dog is and how beautiful you find the sunset. All that sounds like harmless fun, but savvy tricksters can use it to attempt fraud if you're not careful.
Good advice in general.
• Go to the control settings on all your devices and limit the location sharing option on your social media apps.
• Provide a phone number whenever you register on a social media site, and require the app to notify you via text if there's ever an attempt to login and change your password.
• Create strong and unique passwords. Don't use words scammers could easily guess, like birthdays, kids' names, or addresses. Random letters, numbers and special characters add considerable strength.
• Don't use social media accounts to sign up for third-party sites. You'll be giving the sites more information than they need, and it's harder to control what they do with it.
• Make a regular habit of checking the privacy settings on all your social media accounts. Companies will sometimes change their terms and conditions, so you should check to make sure you're still protected to the level you want.
• Adjust your privacy settings so that only your friends can view your posts -- or friends of friends.
• Visit the alerts section and make sure you'll be notified if there are unrecognized attempts to log on.
• Be cautious of a friend request from someone already on your list. It's probably from a hacked or fake account. Delete it immediately.
• Avoid quizzes, games, or lists that require personal information, or a list of your friends.
• Clear out any applications that you've used on Facebook--such as games or surveys--and make sure they no longer have access to your personal data.
• Visit this page for more Facebook safety tips.
• Go to your safety and security controls and uncheck the "Discoverability" boxes. This will prevent your handle from showing up in searches using your email address or phone number.
• Use caution with Direct Messages. Criminals often use them to spread malware. Don't click on any unknown links.
• Be suspicious of short links with no recognizable words. Scammers often hide behind these "URL shorteners."
• Visit this page for more Twitter safety tips.
• If someone you don't recognize starts following you, take a quick look at their profile to be sure they're not posting SPAM--that can often be the sign of a scammer.
• If you share personal images of family, friends or trips, consider making your account "private".
• Consider opening a separate account for your business or specific hobbies or interests.
• Visit this page for more Instagram safety tips.
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