Personal Finance 

Be Smart with Social Media, Protect Your Finances

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Social Media and FinancesSocial media is fun. You can keep in touch with friends and relatives, as well as make new business connections. However, you do need to be careful. Your social media profile can provide scammers with personal information, as well as provide banks and other financial service providers with information that allows them to build a consumer profile.

Remember: No matter your privacy settings, there is still information that others can see — and use against you.

Sharing Personal Information Online

Identity thieves can put together a convincing profile of you, just using information scrounged on social media. Your name. Your birthday. Indeed, you might even think you are safe by only listing the day and month of your birth, instead of listing the year. But have you shared your age? Did you join a group for your high school graduating class? Does your online resume list your college graduation date? If so, scammers can use the information to figure out what your birth year was.

Using your name and birth date, it’s possible for identity thieves to pose as you. If you share information about your parents (including using apps that share connections), that can be used against you. Information about your kids, and their birthdays, as well as pet names, can be used by hackers interested in guessing your passwords. If you are using personal information in your passwords, and you share information over social media, others might be able guess those passwords.

Getting Scammed

Another problem is that scammers can be quite convincing with information they find online. In some cases, it’s possible to track who your friends are, as well as some of your conversations. One of my friends, whose cell phone number was listed on a social media site, received a text message from a “friend” who has spent time with him in a foreign country. The message seemed convincing, even though the text came from another number. The “friend” claimed to be stuck in the foreign country, after being robbed, and that money needed to be wired.

Luckily, my friend thought to check, and called a more reliable phone number. The deception was discovered, and no money changed hands, luckily. However, others aren’t so fortunate. So many people share information, without thinking, online, and that means that it is fertile ground for people to pretend to be your loved ones, needing help, and looking for money. If you aren’t careful, you can be taken in.

Financial Services Companies Could Be Profiling You

Another issue is that, increasingly, lenders and others that provide financial services are starting to look on social media for information about consumers. Banks are profiling certain behaviors, and some are even performing online searches — just to see what you’ve been saying online about how you spend your money.

Even if your social media activity doesn’t result in you being turned down for a loan, it can prevent you getting a job. Increasingly, employers are looking online for information about potential employees, and what you post on social media, and on blogs, could be used in a hiring decision, affecting whether or not you get a new job, or even whether or not you keep your current job.

Think before you post. Remember that, social media is designed for sharing. There’s no such thing as true privacy whenever you post online.

(Photo: ivanpw)

{ 11 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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11 Responses to “Be Smart with Social Media, Protect Your Finances”

  1. Wilma says:

    My employer fired a group of people for going on live chats while wearing company logos on their clothes. Things were said that didn’t sit well with our company values and they were terminated.

    I don’t do facebook because I’m paranoid about just how safe things are. My family is instructed never to put photos of me ANY WHERE on their pages or to mention me in any text. I don’t exist in their online life.

  2. Great article Miranda. I was just watching a show about scam artists on CNBC and these computer hackers were lifting people’s information right off of there social media accounts and that was only one way they were robbing people.

  3. Great reminder on how social media can be dangerous. We must be smart with what we post online. Keep all your PII to yourself.

  4. Strebkr says:

    Social media has its costs and benefits associated with it. If you are careful and reasonable with it the benefits greatly outweigh the costs.

    • Shirley says:

      I do not use social media so I am curious about your comment. Can you tell me some of the benefits of using it that are not available by using private media?

      • Strebkr says:

        Sure, for example I use LinkedIn. If you don’t know what it is, its basically a professional version of Facebook. You post all sorts of stuff about your educational background, work experience, etc. Your homepage is basically an electronic resume. From there, your info is accessible by all sorts of people who can find it (and you want them to find it) I have “friended” all sorts of professional contacts and if I ever want a new job, I would get in touch with these people first.

        On the facebook front, I use it to stay in light contact with people from my past, friends of friends, etc. If I ever need to get in touch with someone who I am not directly friends with, I might be able to have a common contact introduce us.

        I still use facebook to post personal stuff, but its always on a delay. For example, I never post I’m on vacation until I’m back. I usually post a few pics for some other family members to see whats going on. Its a great way for out of town friends and family to keep up with whats going on in our lives. I set my basic profile to be visible to everyone, and then my friends get more access to my pictures and stuff.

        I can understand peoples issues with it, but overall there are hundreds of millions of people on it. That’s pretty significant and shows it must have some value to that group.

        • Shirley says:

          Thank you, Strebkr.
          The number of people using facebook is definitely significant. 🙂 I believe that private media serves my personal purpose as I am no longer in the workforce and also for keeping in touch with family and friends.

  5. Holly says:

    I only use social media to print coupons and/or get samples. I do NOT friend anyone, post any info about me, post any pictures of anyone.

    I am actually amazed at several bloggers who regularly post pictures, ages & bdays of themselves and/or their kids.

  6. Social media is most certainly a double edged sword. it can be extremely useful, but can also come back to bite you. I have drastically reduced my social media usage in recent months and mostly operate under a pseudonym currently. Helps me sleep better at night.

  7. Shirley says:

    Strebkr says:
    01/05/2012 at 9:59 am
    I guess I should ask the question, what is private media? Emails and the like?
    LOL… yes, my error in not further explaining myself. Although email is definitely not ‘private’, it’s not posted out there for everyone/anyone to see.

    I write an email newsletter for our extended family and send it monthly (BCC). It’s just family news, pictures, and events that have been sent to me to be included, plus who has birthdays that month, but it is not something that I would want to have posted for general viewing on the internet.

    A list of email addresses was available at my last class reunion (50 years!) and several of us send ’round robin’ email letters, deleting our own last entry as it returns. Since we are now located all over the place, many questions and referrals are asked and answered. It’s a fun thing, keeps us in touch, and usually makes the round about every two weeks.

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