SENIOR SOCIAL NETWORKING AND SCAMSJan 18th, 2013 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances
Seniors On The Alert for Scams
Increasingly senior citizens are enjoying social networking on the Internet. Last October, Facebook told the world it had a billion members. A good percentage of those FB members are seniors. And because of the increasing numbers, seniors really need to take a look at protecting themselves from scams.
Scammers are adept at taking information from someone’s FB page, piecing that data together, and figuring out what signons and passwords are. For example, if I am born in 1943 and my name posted on FB is Sharon Elrod, a scammer might try elrods1943 for a password or signon. Many seniors use their year of birth and some combination of their name as passwords/signong. Not smart.
If your social networking page (e.g., FaceBook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Seniorocity) includes your birthday and high school, a scammer can figure out where you grew up. With that information, scammers can put together some/most/all of your Social Security number. And those adept at phishing (using personal information for fraudulent purposes) can send you an email or call you on the phone, pretend they are updating account information of one kind or another, and try to get things like your SSN via that route.
The bottom line is this: putting personal information on social network sites helps scammers steal your identity and gain access to your financial accounts.
Tips for Protecting Yourself on Social Networking Sites
Here is what we recommend to seniors for self-protection on social networking sites:
- Do not include your email address on a public site;
- Do not include your telephone number on a public site;
- Do not include any identifying information on a public site; (e.g., your middle name, birthdate/year, hometown, relationship status, hometown, etc)
- Do not use your mother’s maiden name, your pet(s) name(s) or your year of birth as passwords or signons;
- When you are asked to create security questions on sites that contain your bank/credit card accounts, do not use actual/factual information; disguise your answer; for example, when a security question asks for your mother’s maiden name, enter ‘maiden’ or ‘name’ or ’1234′ or some other disguised response;
- Do not accept ‘friend’ requests from strangers;
- Be sure your FB ‘tag suggest’ feature is turned off so FB cannot automatically recognize your face and add the tag to photos others post;
- Be careful of the Apps you add; many of them include identifying information, such as your birthdate, for purposes of others being able to send you a greeting;
- Review your privacy settings regularly to be sure you are not putting out too much personal information that thieves can capture.
Social networking sites are great ways for seniors to stay in touch with family and friends. Self-protection needs to be part of seniors managing those pages.