A recent report from the credit reference agency, Equifax, suggests that the sudden surge in popularity of several key social networking sites could lead to more cases of online fraud and identity theft.
They say that web networkers on popular sites such as Bebo, Facebook and Myspace are ignoring common sense and are plastering their personal details all over the internet.
From what I have seen when I have utilised these types of site I would have to concur that Equifax are probably quite right – it is all to easy to find out people’s names, phone numbers and even addresses.
I can imagine that a determined identity thief could also acquire social security / national insurance numbers, and maybe even bank and credit card details too, if they tried.
Last year in the UK alone the cost of identity theft was estimated to be around £1.5 billion with 80,000 victims.
Neil Munroe, external affairs director for Equifax, went on to say “Fraudsters are taking advantage of the new craze for social networking. “The problem is that people don’t realise the significance of the kind of information they are putting out on the web and who may be accessing it. “More and more consumers are signing up to these sites every day and chances are they’ll put on their date of birth, location, e-mail, job and marital status. “Fraudsters can use this information to steal an individual’s identity and open accounts in their name.”
It defies logic, but there are a great many people who visit social networking sites who are conscientious with their personal details away from the computer, but also extremely trusting of strangers online… why???
Remember your personal details should be just that.. personal.