Q758: Are there any issues I should be aware of, to safeguard myself when using social networking sites such as Facebook?

People are being increasingly targeted by criminals via social networking sites such as Facebook.

You should be very careful about including any of the following personal information on your site:

  • Name;
  • Address;
  • Telephone numbers / email addresses;
  • Education / employment information;
  • Photographs which may show your home and any valuables you may own;
  • Date of birth;
  • Status updates / comments which may state when you are not at home, when you are going on holiday, what expensive items you have recently bought etc.

You should also be cautious about including 'friends of friends' in your privacy settings, as this effectively allows people who you do not know, to view your information. It is therefore advisable to allow only close personal friends and relatives to view your site.

Strangers who request you to add them as a friend could be lying about their identity. A person could pretend to be someone else (e.g. pretending to be of the opposite sex, or adults pretending to be teenagers) in order to persuade another person to agree to meet up with them, when they actually have criminal intentions.

Also, if you add someone who you do not know to your site, they may begin to ask you questions over time and aim conversations to particular subjects, in order to find out more information about you. If they already have your email address, they could log in to that account, using the information you have given them to answer your security questions, and reset your passwords. Once they have done this and have access to your personal emails, they could be gaining access to your bank details, online shopping accounts, paypal etc. and use these to take money from your accounts or buy goods in your name.

Simply, to remain safe, check your security settings, be vigilant as to what information you post, and only accept people to your site who you know well.

For further safety tips regarding social networking sites, please see the site in related information.

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