Social media sites provide a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. Unfortunately, platforms like Facebook can also allow access to information that compromises your personal safety.

Part of the attraction — and the danger — of social media is that you never know exactly who’s paying attention to what you post. Even if you have your visibility set to friends only, chances are that you’ve connected to some relative strangers. To keep your home, your family and yourself safe, consider the following precautions when you use social media.

Guard Personal Information

Be aware of the ways in which hackers, identity thieves and other miscreants can use the personal information in your profile. Hackers may be able to break into your bank account, for instance, by clicking the “reset password” link and answering security questions — and the answers may be readily available in your social media profile.

If your social media account includes information like where you attended high school, your mother’s maiden name, your home address, the city where you were born or your favorite color, you may be unwittingly providing crooks with just what they need to clean out your accounts.

Don’t Tell All in Posts

Many social media users post constantly — where they are, who they’re with, what they’re eating, what they just bought and where they’ll be later. Before you post, take a second to think about how someone could use that information if they don’t have your best interests in mind.

Most people love getting birthday wishes on Facebook, but know that thieves can use your birthdate to break into accounts and can even deduce your Social Security number if they also know your place of birth. To protect your home and belongings, never post photos that reveal the layout of your house or any valuable property like electronics and expensive artwork.

Keep your Location to Yourself

Whether you’re popping into the mall or jetting off to the Caribbean, it’s wise to hold the details of your whereabouts close to the vest. Travel is exciting, and it’s natural to want to share your fun with friends and family. But posting updates and photos in real time from your fabulous vacation isn’t a great idea, because it could alert thieves that you’re away from home.

Likewise, counting down the days to your upcoming holiday trip on social media lets your entire network know exactly when you’ll be away. And if a friend “likes” your post, chances are that their entire network will also be able to read it.

With today’s technology, you may be broadcasting your location without even realizing it. To stop social media sites from using location-based services to pinpoint — and post — where you are at any given time, turn off your GPS functionality when you aren’t using it. Posting your location can put you at risk for property crimes like burglary, and it might let potential predators know when you’re alone.

To Stay Safe, Retain an Aura of Mystery

For many people, social media brings out the tendency to over-share personal information. To protect your personal safety, remember that it’s best to keep some things to yourself.

 

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