What’s not to “like?” Tips for staying safe on social media

  
     
June 30, 2016

BBB advises you to protect your personal information on social media

June 30, 2016, is Social Media Day, an annual celebration that recognizes the impact social media has on global communication. Today, more and more people are turning to social networking as a way to connect with long-distance friends and family, businesses, and the media. But, is sharing always caring?

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 65 percent of American adults use social media. Unfortunately, simply having an online presence and posting articles or personal information may put you at risk of identity theft or hacking. Once information is posted to a social networking site, it’s no longer private. Remember, the more information you post, the more vulnerable you may become.

According to the FBI, hackers use social networking sites to gain access to your computer or phone by installing unwanted software. Sometimes referred to as “social hackers” or “social engineers,” these hackers manipulate people through social interactions online.

Here in Texas, social media is the third most common way scammers contact people, following phone and email, according to data collected by BBB Scam Tracker. Recently, BBB has seen a 122 percent increase nationwide in reports of scammers contacting people through social media.

To protect yourself on social media, BBB advises you:

  • Secure your information. Be careful when entering sensitive information (credit card numbers, driver's license number, Social Security number) online. Always make sure the website is secure by looking for the "s" in "https" at the beginning of the website’s URL.
  • Make strong passwords and change them often. Take time to go through your passwords and change them. Every three months is a good timeline to follow, but change them at least twice a year. Avoid obvious or easy-to-guess passwords. You should also avoid using your birthday, child’s name or birthday, mother’s maiden name or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Consider creating a unique password for each of your social media accounts.
  • Be careful what you click. Just because a friend shares it, doesn’t mean it is a safe link. Referred to as “clickbait,” filling out a quiz a friend posted on their timeline or sharing an article with an outlandish headline could be an attempt to gain access to your profile. When social media profiles are hacked, scammers can share viral links that will download malware on your computer. Hover over a link before you click and never enter personal information if prompted by a shared link. Also, be cautious of pop-up windows and keep your antivirus software up-to-date.
  • Don’t overshare. Never share your Social Security number on social media sites. Also, think twice before sharing your vacation plans away from home, or information that makes you vulnerable, as scammers and thieves could take advantage of you.
  • Check your privacy settings. Periodically, review your privacy settings on your social media accounts. Limit your profile views to only your friends and the people you trust with your information. Also, read the terms of service and privacy policy on social media sites, as it tells you exactly what the site can and will do with your information.
  • Think before you post. Once a status or photo is posted, even if deleted, it is still somewhere in cyberspace forever. Use your best judgement: always ask yourself if it should be posted and think of the possible ramifications of the information shared. 

Media Contacts:

Austin

Esther Robards-Forbes
512.206.2818
erobards-forbes@austin.bbb.org 

Bryan/College Station 

Bill McGuire
979.777.1263
bmcguire@bryan.bbb.org

Corpus Christi/Victoria

Kelly Trevino
361.945.7352
ktrevino@corpuschristi.bbb.org

Permian Basin 

Heather Massey
432.741.2592
hmassey@permianbasin.bbb.org

San Antonio/Laredo

Miguel Segura
210.260.9843
msegura@sanantonio.bbb.org

Waco 

Adam Price
254.449.1567
aprice@waco.bbb.org