NEVER Share These Things Online...

Category: Privacy

Two trends are in conflict on the Internet. “Security” is big these days; it’s more important than ever to protect yourself against ever-increasing cyberthreats. “Sharing” is equally big, thanks to companies like Facebook and Twitter which make money when you share your thoughts, experiences, and other life-stuff with strangers. But security and sharing do not mix well. Here's what you need to know...

Are You Over-Sharing?

Look at airline boarding passes as an example. People excited about going on vacation often post pictures of their boarding passes on social media. (I guess they fear their “friends” won’t believe them without proof.) Unfortunately, those boarding passes may contain all the information an identity thief needs.

Some boarding passes include the E-Ticket number, booking reference, frequent flyer number and even how many bags you have checked in. Go to your airline's website and look for the “manage existing trips” option. Typically, all you need to login there is the passenger’s name and E-ticket number or booking reference. That allows anyone with that info to change your seating assignment, change the date of your return flight, or even cancel your tickets.

In some cases, the barcode on an airline ticket contains also the passenger’s phone number, date of birth, frequent flyer number, payment information, passport data, names of others in your party, and where you'll be staying upon arrival. Few passengers realize that, so even the security-conscious fail to cover it when taking a photo. Barcode readers are cheap, and many cybercrooks have them.

Are You Over-Sharing?

Tickets to concerts and other events should not be posted online until after you have used them. Tickets bear all the info necessary to create useable counterfeits. Many people have been disappointed at the box office to learn their tickets have already been used. If you must have bragging rights, Ticket Master has a helpful page on the Do’s & Don’ts of Sharing Ticket Pics Online.

Of course, you should never post a picture of a check online. See my article, “Paper Checks Can Lead to Fraud”.

You should never tell the world that you are or soon will be on vacation or away on business. You might as well put a sign on your lawn that reads, “Nobody home, please rob this house.” Use private messages to inform people who really need to know that you’ll be away for two weeks. Wait until you get home to share vacation photos and anecdotes with everyone.

Is Your Slip Exposed?

It's very hard to be completely invisible online. My article Can You Remove Yourself From The Internet? goes into detail on how you can find and remove personal information that you might not have known was available in cyberspace.

Going on a date to someplace expensive? Muggers would love to know that. Throwing a bridal shower where there will be a heap of expensive gifts? A home invasion is possible if you post the place and time online weeks in advance. Your social life is full of opportunities to get ripped off, or even physically harmed. Don’t share it with strangers.

Linking one of your social networks to another may prove embarrassing, at the least. When you link a Facebook account to a LinkedIn account, suddenly your professional colleagues know your personal life. One guy got fired this way; he called in sick at work and then bragged on Facebook about putting one over on the boss. His boss saw that and fired him.

Parents and grandparents love to post pictures of children, and they rarely consider the long-term effects on their offspring. A story that made the rounds a few years ago told of an 18-year-old Austrian girl who was suing her parents because they refused to take down 500+ "potty pics" and other embarrassing baby photos posted on Facebook.

Aside from causing possible embarrassment, a photo can reveal sensitive info about kids, and enables a creep to recognize a child. Mentioning the child’s name enables a creep to say, “Hey, Jenny, Grandpa So-and-So sent me to take you to his house.” Don’t mention anything about children on social media that can help perverts find and trick them. Remember, they’re kids, who trust easily.

More Facebook Faux Pas

I am constantly amazed by Facebook users who share their phone numbers and even home addresses with everyone. Ditto for users who leave location services enabled on Facebook or Twitter. I had to tell one single mom, via Twitter direct message, that her phone was broadcasting the street address of her home to the whole world. She had a major panic attack.

Facebook reports that 40 percent of its users leave their entire profiles open to the public. That means everything you post is available to over a billion people! Take the time to get familiar with Facebook’s privacy settings and lock down your profile. Then be careful to make “friends” only of people who are friends in real life. The rest are strangers, and you don’t know what they might do with your personal info.

Even close friends and perhaps even spouses should not have your passwords. Breakups happen, and before they happen someone often sneaks a peek at someone else’s social media accounts. Facebook has become a divorce attorney’s best friend, saving thousands of dollars on private investigators.

One other thing that you might be sharing is your wifi signal. If you have no password on your router, anyone in the vicinity can "share" your internet connection. And if they do something illegal, it can be difficult to prove it wasn't you. See my article Protect Your Router Now for tips on locking down your wifi signal.

Are you over-sharing? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "NEVER Share These Things Online..."

Posted by:

04 Jun 2019

Looks like a double-negative in the sidebar!

Posted by:

04 Jun 2019

These are some great tips about personal identity data vulnerabilities and their safeguarding, which I was not even aware of.
I am coming to terms with the fact that our own data is not secure, cannot be secured and there is not one darn thing we can do about it. Sounds like a cliché but this all probably goes back to the “Golden Rule”… or maybe more aptly to Lee Iacocca’s ad-line about “Lead, follow or get out of the way!” I have chosen the latter and have pretty much gone dark with my personal data.
In the last week alone, Quest Diagnostics revealed a (7 month) breach of 12 million patient’ financial, credit card, bank account, personal, and medical records. Such security breaches do not even make the headlines anymore and this is that one Genie that can never be put back in the bottle. meh!

Posted by:

Bob K
04 Jun 2019

As far as Facebook goes, it doesn't do any good to lock down your privacy settings. Every time I tried that, they would change their rules, and things I wanted private were public again.

And, stuff that I thought were not to be public suddenly started showing up on Mylife.

My Facebook account now is history, but I bet they still have all that information spinning around on hard drives somewhere.

Posted by:

Dave H.
04 Jun 2019

Unfortunately, you don't even have to be guilty of foolishly sharing info on social media for bad guys to take advantage. For example, perhaps the worst low-lifes will check obituaries in your local paper (especially around holidays) and plan to rob your house while you are grieving at the funeral.

Posted by:

Dr. Sheldon Cooper
04 Jun 2019 is internet scum

Posted by:

Jay R
05 Jun 2019

I think it was my grandfather who used to say share and share aleak.

Posted by:

Julie B
05 Jun 2019

Be careful about doing fun quizzes, personality tests, etc. Pay attention to the questions because they may be gathering personal information about you.

Posted by:

05 Jun 2019

Simple rules for Facebook users
1. Use a dedicated email address only for FB.
2. Use a dedicated browser only for FB (stops FB using your daily search history for advertisig).
3. Do not put any personal information on your profile - use false dates, jobs and locations.
4. Use another name (needs to be realistic) and personally message people you want to be friends.
5. Don't post anything that will identify you or where you live.
- not exactly honest? Well FB with their secret selling of your personal data deserve to have that data corrupted!

Posted by:

05 Jun 2019

All very sound, and should be common sense - which seems to be increasingly scarce these days!

Posted by:

09 Jun 2019

Many years ago I asked my stepmother if I could use her phone number for dial-up when I was staying at her house. I laughed to myself when she said: "No, I don't want THE INTERCEPT in my house." How prophetic.

Posted by:

14 Jun 2019

Over the years a few "friends" and people I casually know have asked me about contacting via Facebook. When I told (all) of them I didn't have a Facebook account. When pressed as to why, I simply said "I'm not that lonely" this answer works like a charm.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- NEVER Share These Things Online... (Posted: 4 Jun 2019)
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