Things You Should NEVER Share Online

Category: Privacy

Two major 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.

Delta Airlines’ boarding passes include the E-Ticket number, booking reference, frequent flyer number and even how many bags you have checked in. Go to Delta’s site and you’ll find the “manage existing trips” option. 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. That's just one example; most airlines have the same type of barcodes and online passenger portals.

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, 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?

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 recent story making the rounds tells of an 18-year-old Austrian girl who is suing her parents because they refuse 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 1.2 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 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.

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 "Things You Should NEVER Share Online"

Posted by:

Edward Brown Jr
19 Sep 2016

I suggest you strongly remind online folks that anything posted online is essentially immortal. It can be stored and copied and even altered at will, for many years to come,by many different kinds of people. keep up the good work, Bob !

Posted by:

André Chénier
19 Sep 2016

What care do we have to take when posting videos to YouTube ?

Btw, thanks for all the information you provide. I have been following you since Tourbus I don't remember when, but it could be in the last century!

Posted by:

Jerry Barnes
19 Sep 2016

Thanks to you, Bob, I have been aware of the potential dangers of social media for some time. The simplest solution, of course, is to just don't use them. I do visit Facebook occasionally, but mostly to view/read. I very seldom post anything, and am careful with what I do post.

Posted by:

Paul Newton
19 Sep 2016

This is great info about Facebook. I have made some changes just now. Speaking of security, what is your opinion of VPN?

Posted by:

19 Sep 2016

The closest I come to social media is writing notes and letters of comment on articles like this one. Some people are so caught up in their "virtual" lives that they don't see dangers in their actual physical lives. I see phone zombies on every street of America these days, not really paying attention to who or what is around them. If you ask me, they are begging for trouble and if they were killed, it would simply be an example of Darwinism at work.

Posted by:

19 Sep 2016

Facebook gives you a lot of privacy controls. But people either don't how to use them or fail to use them. I limit what I share and usually restrict only to friends.

Posted by:

Jay R
19 Sep 2016

Thanx for sharing!
That's way better to say than thanx for shariaing.

Posted by:

19 Sep 2016

Ironically we need to share this with the widest possible dissemination.

--Grandpa Chet

Posted by:

19 Sep 2016

Good tips - but I would disagree with one thing - "Even close friends and spouses should not have your passwords". If one spouse is in charge of the finances and becomes incapacitated (long term), the other spouse needs access to bank accounts and financial info. Without passwords life becomes much harder at a very bad time. Maybe having passwords stored with a trusted friend or attorney or in a sealed envelope in a safe deposit box? If you can't trust your spouse that far you probably have worse problems than password protection.

Posted by:

19 Sep 2016

I heard years ago that some thieves will follow obituaries and if it is a relatively well-known community person, they will go to the deceased's home during the funeral....and rob it. I have friends who actually left a friend at their home during a well-known person's funeral, to help "guard" the home from thieves.

Posted by:

Bob Price
19 Sep 2016

It's ironic that many dislike the gov't spying on private lives, yet they post private information themselves for every one to see.

Posted by:

19 Sep 2016

Yikes. I always share my itinerary with people that will be picking me up at the airport and all they have to do is click on it and they can alter my flight. Guess it's cut-and-paste from here on.

re sharing passwords: I actually DO keep a master password in a safe deposit box, shared with a sibling. In event of my demise they know to send it to my spouse -- and he alone would know what to do with it. Ridiculous? Nope, I've seen enough divorces and deaths to cover my bases.

Posted by:

19 Sep 2016

When job hunting I routinely searched the company owner's name - to learn about their community involvement and favorite charities.

One search turned up the owner's personal Twitter account, with his hundreds of posts of his sexist remarks, details about drunken forays, every expensive vacation across the globe, with photos of the hotel bars and a lot of empty liquor bottles.

In short, it told me that in spite of the handsome salary offered, he was not the sort of person
I could respect and work for. Lawyers call that salary "pain-and-anguish pay."

Thanks, Twitter, for saving me from that company!

Posted by:

19 Sep 2016

I have to wonder what sort of sick parents would even photograph their kids using the potty - let alone post the pictures online.

Posted by:

19 Sep 2016

On Facebook and others: I do not give/show my real first name (Bob not Robert), no middle name nor initial, not city/state were I live, no birth day, year nor month, no phone number, no email address,high school but not college. No dates provided, some decades. The people I know on Facebook also know me.
On a family geaneology site on Facebook, I provided a family tree of my Mother & Father's descendants, only first names, the state they live in and the decade that they were born & died. If somebody wanted more, they were to message me.

Posted by:

20 Sep 2016

I think people also need to realize that photos they post on Facebook and other sites become the property of this site and they can do whatever they want with the photos you post. In fact the terms of service will say that you give up any copyright claim to photos you post on their site. Add to this that friends who become former friends (and anyone if your profile is public) can copy photos and store them indefinitely without your knowledge.

Posted by:

20 Sep 2016

yes sure facebook very very dangerous especially for the young one or get caught with stranger only for sex discussing immoral i do not believe what going on facebook or the fondateur making billions

Posted by:

20 Sep 2016

I often read about how people need to learn their FB privacy settings, seen problems dismissed with "they should have checked their privacy settings."

Is it not a problem when a system is set up in such an opt-out fashion and so complicated people have to LEARN to protect their privacy? Shouldn't privacy be the default, with clear options to expand it if the user wishes? I understand why FB does it the way it does. What I really don't understand is why people never question it.

I'm not on any social media, thought it looked like trouble the first time I heard about it. I write only under pseudonyms. Even then someone on a forum found some articles I'd written for a small community newspaper years earlier, about five pages into the Google results for my name.

It really felt creepy to think someone I don't know bothered to search that thoroughly. I mean, I wouldn't bother to search that far for myself. I'm not that bloody interesting.

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