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Is Your Friend Putting You at Risk of Being Scammed?

Is Your Friend Putting You at Risk of Being Scammed?

Being a good friend nowadays can be kind of tricky and complicated. Before the Internet, keeping a secret was a simple task – it just required you to have control over what you said. Today, we might all be revealing too much information about ourselves and our friends without even noticing it, and without realizing the risk for scams or worse crimes.  After all, what do you know about your 500 “friends” on Facebook?

Social media seems harmless to most people, but it isn’t. Mobile devices and apps are big fraud and scam platforms if you don’t use them in the right way. It is important to know how you might be vulnerable of scam, and this includes checking how your friends handle your information online.

People end up getting fired and even divorced all the time because they shared too much online!  In many cases, Internet users thought they were being cautious and protecting their privacy, by checking their social settings on Facebook, for example, and thought it was ok to only share things with their friends.  What most users don’t know, is that once information is past on to another person on the Internet, there is no way to prevent it from being passed on and permanently recorded, all in public view.

Want to share with your friends how you’re currently on vacation?  Perfect, criminals might have access to your social media or the website where you’re sharing, and they love to know you’re not home and where you live.  Google Maps can even provide a photo of your house and how to get there!  Even if you actually know your “friends” online and trust them, how do you know they protect your information?  The truth is, due to the nature of the Internet and social media in general, you don’t.

It is hard enough to control your online privacy, but it gets harder when you consider that your friends can be a problem. How can a friend give out your personal information without you knowing? How can you be the one that’s giving out their information? There are many ways, and we’ll mention a few.

  1. Privacy settings are set to off. All social media sites have privacy settings which can be as simple as public vs private profile (like Twitter) or as complicated as Facebook’s, where you set a different privacy level for each piece of content (pictures, timeline, tags, etc). People tend to just ignore this because there’s too much to check, and being public might not look like a threat to you. But protecting privacy in social media is also a matter of respect for your friends, because your timeline is an open door to your friends’ pictures and profiles. All Facebook pictures can be downloaded, or simply copied on a screen shot. So next time you take a picture with a friend, ask for permission to upload. Too many people suffer from cases identity theft and in many cases it starts with getting their pictures from Facebook.
  2. Keep a good control over your passwords. Your stolen social media password can put your friends in trouble too.  Taking into account safe online practices will protect you and your loved ones.
  3. Uploading address books. You wouldn´t share your super-secret contact number with all of your friends, probably just the most intimate. The problem with address books is that this good friend of yours, who has your super-secret number, placed this information in his electronic address book on his smartphone, and then synched his contact list with his favorite social media sites.  Spammers also often get a hold of address books.  Keep your address books offline, and strictly private.
  4. Accepting unknown people as social media friends. You may know very well that accepting people you don´t know on Facebook or other social media sites is risky, but your friends might not. Sometimes we agree to accept “companies” or other organizations that have regular personal accounts instead of a company page, thus access to more information about yourself and your friends that should not be available to companies or unknown people. Sometimes people accept requests from friends whom they had already friended before, without noticing this second profile is actually fake and created just to scam people. Be skeptical and safe.  Carefully review anyone you add to your “friends” list.   For romantic relationships get a dating background check to stay safe and avoid scams and fraud.
  5. Checking in wherever you go with a friend. It´s never secure to say where you are at all times, but it´s worse if you tag your friends. Not everyone wants to share this kind of information, so make sure to ask your friends not to tag or mention you when they check in.

Protect your online privacy by staying informed, and respecting the privacy of your friends also.  Share less, and think before sharing your friend’s info.  Your friends will really appreciate it!

C. Wright
© 2014 Wymoo International
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© Copyright 2014 Wymoo International.  All Rights Reserved.  This content is the property of Wymoo International, LLC and is protected by United States and international copyright laws.

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