Protect your identity on social media


The holidays are upon us, and social media is a part of the season whether you like it or not. 

If you're like many of us, you post pictures of your holiday travels, you tweet frustrations at an airline, and of course, you shop on sites that are linked to your Facebook profile. Any of this stuff online, however, can make you or your loved ones more vulnerable to identity theft. 

Information you post on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can facilitate identity theft, and it’s your job to stay as protective of your information online as you are when you enter your PIN at the market. Here are some identity theft protection tips to make sure your personal info is not compromised in the quest for “likes.” 

Family takes holiday selfie

Don’t use Facebook to log in to other sites

Clicking that “Log in with Facebook” button is more convenient than creating a new username and password, but doing so makes Facebook your default master password. If cyber criminals gain access to your Facebook account, they can have a field day. 

Clear out services that already have social access

If you’ve used Facebook to sign in to other sites, don’t feel bad – you’re not alone. You can audit these permissions by logging in to Facebook, clicking “Settings,” then “Apps and Websites.” Check all the services that should not have access anymore, and click “Remove.” Don’t forget to check the “Expired” tab as well. These are services that have not recently accessed your Facebook information, but still have the ability to so.

Honolulu beach photo from a vacation

Hold off on sharing your travel photos

That picture of you holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa should definitely go on Instagram, but don’t post it until you’re home. Travel photos could be a signal to cyber criminals that now is a good time to strike. Along with letting everyone know how much fun you’re having on vacation, these pictures could also be broadcasting that mail with sensitive information is piling up at your residence, your home is unattended, and that you may not be monitoring your bank account as closely as you normally would, etc.

Birthday cake

Don’t list your birthdate in your profile

The influx of birthday wishes is one of the best things about having a Facebook profile, but your date of birth could be a key piece of information a criminal needs to hack your identity. 

Remember that nothing is ever truly private

Even if you have more security on your social accounts than Fort Knox, keep in mind that some details are never private. On almost all social platforms, your name, profile picture, and cover photo are always public. Beyond that, anything you post could still be screenshot and shared beyond your sphere of control. Teens have less experience with the potential for fraud on the internet and are especially vulnurable, so be sure to talk to your teen about protecting their identity. 

Teenager works on a laptop

Know who you’re talking to

Angler phishing can occur when you post a customer service concern on social media. An individual portraying the company – with the same username and profile picture – may respond and request your information. Usually, a blue checkmark by the name indicates that Twitter has verified that this is the real account. Other times, a phisher may reply from a personal account claiming to represent the company. It’s usually best to ignore these altogether. 

Woman is on social media on her smartphone

Keep private conversations private

To reduce the risk of angler phishing, use the Direct Message feature when communicating with companies, rather than posting publicly. This helps ensure phishers never have an opportunity step in. 

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Get some help with ProtectMyID®

AAA works with Experian® to offer members a free identity theft protection service called ProtectMyID® Essential. This service monitors your information, alerts you of changes, and more. If you have a strong social media presence, we recommend Experian’s ProtectMyID® Platinum. AAA members can sign up for ProtectMyID® Platinum at a special discounted rate, and it includes social media monitoring, $1 million in identity theft insurance, and child identity monitoring.

Get ProtectMyID®

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