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Identity Theft Through Social Networking? Lessons to Take Now!

Identity Theft Through Social Networking? Lessons to Take Now!

In 2012, more than 12 million people became victims of identity theft and fraud, with an estimated total of $21 billion losses for the year alone, proving that these issues are growing problems in the US. The federal government, financial institutions and companies dealing with sensitive information are enforcing measures to protect their consumers from ID theft and fraud, but cyber criminals are finding ways to collect information—either through a data breach or by turning to social media to obtain information.

How social media can put you at risk for identity theft

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter recently suffered such hack attacks. Facebook claimed that no user data was compromised in the attack, while Twitter revealed that some 250,000 usernames, passwords, and email addresses were stolen.

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According to Facebook’s management, the computers of its employees were infected with malware that came from a mobile developer’s website that was already compromised. This particular attack shows that even though companies rely on technology to protect consumers, the latter is still vulnerable to attacks. Criminals focus their attention on the companies’ employees to gain access to their databases.

Criminals can also obtain your personal information through third-party applications. Most social media sites have apps that ask for permission to access your account information before you can install them. This is one way hackers steal your details to commit fraud.

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Unconsciously (or sometimes, consciously), you provide personal details you would not share otherwise on your social media accounts. Information such as your full name (including your middle name), date of birth, hometown, pet names, interests and hobbies, nature of work, and home or office address are just some of the personal details you post on your profile. Criminals can easily manipulate these details to commit fraud. Protecting this information just as you would protect your SSN and driver’s license number is one effective method of identity theft prevention.

You also put yourself at risk for identity theft when you post updates of your activities on your social media accounts. Posting that you’ll be out of town on the weekend might attract burglars. Opportunists will steal not only valuable items (jewelry, gadgets and cash) from your home, but also documents containing your personal and banking information. This could very well be the start of your identity theft problems.

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How to protect your information on social media sites

Before deleting your social accounts, you should consider that you can be smart about what you post or provide on your profiles. You can still enjoy participating in social media sites without falling prey to identity thieves and fraudsters. Here are some points to consider:

  • Be in control of the information you provide online. Find out how the site will use your information (such as for targeted advertising). As much as possible, never allow the site to make your personal information available to third-party application developers or marketing agencies.
  • Never provide your SSN or driver’s license number even if the site asks for either.
  • You should also avoid giving out your credit card number when buying additional apps or features for your account. This is one way to prevent credit card fraud.
  • If you plan on becoming active in social media sites, make sure you provide as little personal information as possible. You should also consider changing a few details (like the day on your birth date) so those who can access your details won’t have your actual information to use for ID theft-related activities.
  • Only invite or accept invitations from people who you know or have met, and avoid inviting strangers or friends of friends to your network.

Guarding against identity fraud

Not all identity theft cases lead to identity fraud, but it pays to be cautious. If your social account has been hacked, all your personal details may be compromised. Any combination of the details you provide in your profile (such as your full name and home address) can be used to commit fraud. You should regularly your check credit report to see if there are any suspicious activities involving your name. You should also check your credit score as some of these activities may have an effect on it.

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For the naturally wary, enlisting credit monitoring services is helpful in tracking suspicious activities. You’ll be notified daily or as often as necessary when changes in your credit occur. Some people think regular credit monitoring is only for the paranoid, but if you think about the financial and emotional costs of identity fraud, you’ll see that that this service is well worth your money.

Actively participating in social media sites puts you at a higher risk of identity theft simply because more people will “see” you and will have access to  your details. Being cautious of how much information you share (or overshare) on your accounts. Having control of how this information is used is the key to protecting yourself against identity theft and fraud.

Are you a victim of identity theft through social media? Share your story with us by posting in the comments section below.

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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