What You Should Keep Off Facebook

Posted on: September 30th, 2010 by

Financial Planning - Rockville, MD

The whole social networking phenomenon has millions of Americans sharing their photos, favorite songs and details about their class reunions on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and dozens of similar sites.  But there are a handful of personal details that you should never say if you don’t want criminals, cyber or otherwise, to rob you blind.  At least by now, most people know that those drunken party pictures could cost them their jobs. But don’t think that you can’t enjoy networking and sharing photos, just know that sharing some information puts you at risk.

Your Birth Date and Place

Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and where you were born too, you’ve just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life.  A study done by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most, and sometimes all of the numbers in your Social Security number.

Vacation Plans

There may be a better way to say “Rob me, please” than posting something along the lines of: “Count-down to Maui! Two days and Ritz Carlton, here we come!” on Twitter.  But it’s pretty hard to think of one.  Just post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like.

Home Address

Do I have to elaborate?  A study recently released by the Ponemon Institute found that users of Social Media sites were at greater risk of physical and identity theft because of the information they were sharing.  Some 40% listed their home address on the sites; 65% didn’t even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings.  And 60% said they weren’t confident that their “friends” were really just people they know.


You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational user of illicit drugs, but this is no place to confess.  Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire and, sometimes, who to fire.  One study done last year estimated that 8% of companies fired someone for “misuse” of social media.

Password Clues

If you’ve got online accounts, you’ve probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your mother’s maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song.  Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? You’re giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.

Risky Behaviors

You take your classic Camaro out for street racing, soar above the hills in a hang glider, or smoke like a chimney?  Insurers are increasingly turning to the web to figure out whether their applicants and customers are putting their lives or property at risk.  So far, there’s no efficient way to collect the data, so cancellations and rate hikes are rare.  But the technology is fast evolving and insurance companies are responding.  Don’t get yourself into trouble.



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