Identity Theft and Social Media Scares

March 7, 2012

Ah, The Culture of Fear is finally reaching social media. With search morphing from precision and recall to asking one’s closest online pals, fear and search may now become unlikely bed fellows.

I came across an interesting article today (while taking a break from browsing my social media accounts on my smartphone) titled, “Smartphone, Social Media Users at Risk for Identity Fraud.” According to the piece, smartphone owners and social media users have an increased risk of becoming a victim of identity theft because of a lack of adequate security settings. A recent report on identity fraud by Javelin Strategy and Research found that 7 percent of smartphone users were victims of identity fraud last year, compared to the 4.9 percent rate among the general population. The article tells us more:

Around 62 percent [of smartphone owners] said they don’t use a password or a pin code to lock their devices. About 32 percent admitted to saving log-in information on their devices. Social media and mobile behaviors made users more vulnerable to fraud, according to the report. Users of social networking services, such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Twitter, had the highest incidence of fraud. Consumers who actively engage with social media and use a smartphone were found to have a disproportionate rate of identity fraud than consumers who do not use in these services.

Because of GPS-enabled location data and personal information shared over these networks, users are putting themselves at risk. However, when it comes to sharing information on smartphones and social media, users’ fear may be misdirected and misinformed. It seems to me that a 2 percent increase in identity theft possibilities might not be the biggest of our problems.

Andrea Hayden, March 7, 2012

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