Everyone and anyone is at risk of having their identity stolen. How do I know? Because it happened to me.
I LOVE Social Media and in fact, I teach businesses how to use it properly to connect with their target audience. I help people optimize their privacy by locking down settings.
So when someone went online using my name and my email address to write the following I was horrified:
This upset me because it affected my business, but more importantly, it affected my life.
- Was the man who did this going to show up at my house?
- Did he know where I live?
- Was he going to hurt me or my family?
I realized that I had been sharing a LOT of information about myself all over the internet.
Even if I had my privacy settings locked down, Facebook changes their settings ALL THE TIME.
Because I thought “I’m a nice person and no one is ever going to hurt me”, I never worried about how much information I had been sharing about myself.
I was posting pictures of my dog, where I was going, what I was doing, who I was with.
I became VERY afraid.
I went to the Police Station with all the information and thankfully they found the person who did this to me.
He’s a stranger I had never met before who said he used my name “for fun”.
That’s right. Someone just turned my life upside down because he wanted to see what would happen.
I realized that if this can happen to me, it can happen to you.
You may not be thinking about your future career now, but when you are finished with school and are looking for jobs, did you know that over 90% of recruiters are looking at ALL your pictures to see if you would be a good person to work at their company?
What kind of a first impression will recruiters see when they Google you?
And with your friends, do you share cute photos and selfies on Instagram or Facebook from your room?
By default, most Social Media sites are set to PUBLIC and you have to go in and change all the settings to make sure what you’re sharing isn’t seen by the whole world.
You may not realize that there are certain digital “stamps” that can be hidden in the code where someone can find out exactly where that picture was taken.
Ever wonder who might be looking at your pics? What do they see?
Take a look at www.takethislollipop.com, add the app to your Facebook page and see what could happen.
(Remember to go in and remove the app from your Facebook settings afterwards)
Here are 5 steps you can take RIGHT now:
1) Only publish information that EVERYONE could potentially see.
Better safe than sorry. Don’t trust Social Media sites.
Never publish when you’re going to be on vacation or where you go to school.
2) Don’t create a pattern online.
Don’t publish where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with. The more information you publish, the easier you make it for that guy in the video.
3) Pretend you’re a recruiter and Google your name.
What sites appear with your name on them?
What images appear on the Internet.
Visit sites like:
What did you see?
What can pictures and posts will you remove?
4) Never – EVER get into fights online. Especially with people you don’t know.
5) If someone does try to hurt you, the police can help.
I went right away to the Police Station with all the information and the man confessed. He had to do community service and will always have this on his “record”.
As I said before, if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.
Would you rather be safe, or sorry?
Now it’s YOUR turn.
Do you know anyone who had their identity stolen? What happened? How did they handle it?
About Leslie Hughes
Leslie Hughes is the Principal of PUNCH!media, LinkedIn Optimization Specialist and Professor of Social Media. Leslie helps businesses gain confidence using the right tools (LinkedIn, blogging, Twitter, Facebook) at the right time, to the right audience to make connections. With over 15 years experience in traditional and online marketing and sales, Leslie has helped clients such as The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, TVO, and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America extend their brand and convert business. For corporate training, keynote speeches, Social Media strategy development or LinkedIn Optimization, connect with Leslie at firstname.lastname@example.org