Are You Oversharing Online? It Could Cost You

You probably have “those friends” online. You know the kind we’re talking about. They aren’t comfortable unless they’ve shared every facet of their lives with the outside world. The words “privacy settings” might as well be dirty to them. They have a billion friends on Facebook, and apparently think that each one of those billion are actually friend.

Hopefully, you’re not one of those people; because if you are, you are probably oversharing, and that’s going to cost you.

Recently, Allstate’s Nicole Markle shared this advice with readers on how to avoid the overshare.


Don’t Get Personal.

Markle advises you to “Keep the very personal information offline.”

“While most people know to keep things like social security numbers and their mother’s maiden name private, the growing body of information posted online could be used against you,” she says. “These personal facts are making life easier for identity thieves, according to the Better Business Bureau. Reconsider sharing things like full name, birth date, current employer, family member names, and of course your home address.”

And as for “knowing better,” not everyone does. Recently, one Twitter user had her debit card compromised, and so when she got her new one in the mail, she made sure to tweet a picture of the front of it. After receiving repeated inquiries about the three-digit number on the back, she shared that, too, along with a smh (shaking my head). Sounds too ridiculous to be true, we know, but here’s proof.


Be Hyper Sensitive With Family Names.

Markle also points out that it’s the little things that often get oversharers in the biggest trouble in becoming hot targets for identity thieves.

Information that people “share in passing” can help these thieves answer your password retrieval questions, she said.

“According to a recent study by Javelin Strategies, a research and consulting company, you may want to rethink sharing your hometown, marital status, schools attended and even your pet’s name.”


Think Before You Post That Photo!

On our own feeds, we have dozens of friends with literally thousands of photos posted to their Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts. While these mediums were designed for self-expression, there are just too many baddies out there who want to ruin it for everyone. That’s why Markle advises to “Think hard about the photos you post, and the information provided with them.”

“It’s natural to want to share good news with your social networks — just be careful about how much you’re sharing. For instance, try an Instagram search for the hashtag #driverslicense, and you’ll see a lot of smiling faces waving that new license, and the personal information on it, at the camera.”

Furthermore, something as harmless as a birthday meal can turn in to an unknowing credit card reveal. “Next time you’re uploading a photo, make sure that there is absolutely no personal information in sight,” Markle says.


Review Privacy Settings On Social Networks.

Facebook made extensive changes to its privacy settings in April. It’s now possible to make cover photos private and select more specific audiences for status updates. While it will hardly make you impervious to hack jobs, it can make it more difficult for a hacker to hijack your profile and all the personal info you may have circulating.


Finally: Turn Off Location-Based Apps.

Pretty much every social network today allows you to brag about what you’re doing and where you’re doing it. For Markle, this is a big no-no.

“The Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all allow users to pinpoint their precise whereabouts with geolocation tags. If you haven’t turned the setting off, posting a status update from the couch could broadcast your address to the world,” she states. adds that identity thieves can use a home address as a means of verifying data and stealing your identity. “Facebook offers step-by-step instructions for turning off this feature,” Markle says. “According to Twitter, the geolocation feature is off by default, and can easily be turned off if it’s been turned on.”


In Summary

It’s maddening that you have to guard against this stuff while you’re online, but that’s the world we live in, and the genie isn’t going back in the bottle. If you don’t want to become a victim, it’s best to corral oversharing now before it gets out of hand. If you’re wise to it but have friends who aren’t, do them a favor and share the tips we’ve listed above. It could save them a lot of time, money, and headaches.

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