ID theft is a major cause for concern when using social media

Identity theft continues to be one of the most pressing issues facing consumers throughout the United States. When people share their information on social media, they increase their chances of becoming a victim.

In an article about identity theft, WalletHub reports Vijay Kanabar, an associate professor of computer science and administrative services at Boston University, states the “biggest disturbing trend in identity theft will definitely be social media.”  Unfortunately. the level of sharing of personal information that takes place on a daily basis gives identity thieves lucrative opportunities they can’t – and won’t – resist.  

Social media users more prone to ID theft

In 2016 Javelin reported people who share their life on social networking websites are 46% more prone to fraudsters taking over their accounts. This trend hasn’t changed. Thieves continue to exploit social media in many ways.

  • Impersonating victims to gather details from family and friends.
  • Imitating friends accounts to gain trust and steal valuable personal information.
  • Sending links via direct messaging which are designed to trick people to type in personal information.
  • Taking hacked or impersonated accounts and posting “clickbait” links to trick people into clicking, resulting in users downloading malware.

Additionally, social networking websites are not immune to data breaches or hacks. Some of the biggest hacks of the 21st century have been social media websites. This is no surprise since social media sites hold a treasure trove of information.

Thieves use one social media account as a gateway

Once a thief gains access to one account, it’s easier for them to infiltrate other accounts since many people choose easy to guess passwords or reuse the same passwords on different websites. Also, many websites, as a convenience, allow people to create accounts using their social media accounts. Unfortunately, once thieves gain access to social media credentials, it means they’re able to gain access to any website where a person has used the same credentials.

Thieves exploit COVID-19 pandemic to scam people

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, ID thieves exploited the pandemic using classic social engineering tactics on social media to trick people into sharing information, clicking dangerous links, or downloading malware.

  • Circulating quizzes to test a person’s knowledge of COVID-19 and its impact, but using the quiz to gain personal information (i.e. answers to security questions such as mother’s maiden name or model of the first car) that can be used to hack accounts and commit financial fraud.
  • Sharing links advertising hard to get items, such as masks, disinfectants, and COVID-19 test kits.
  • Distributing fake news stories relating to the coronavirus, vaccines, or potential treatments.

Due to the pandemic restricting people’s options to be social, millions heavily relied on social media and started having social interactions more publicly. Unfortunately, thieves have likely gathered what appears to be harmless pieces of information, but once compiled gives enough details to commit ID fraud.

Unfortunately, identity theft can wreak havoc on a person’s credit score. If you’ve had your identity stolen, or just want to improve your credit score, Connect (formerly PRBC) can help get your credit standing back on track. Contact us to learn more about how our alternative credit score can help.

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