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BBB warns social network users to limit private information posted online

Social networking sites have seen a dramatic increase in users, as well as a corresponding rise in fraudsters using such networks to rip people off. BBB warns social network users of all ages to be cautious and limit the types of private and personal information that is posted online.

“Your family is ready to head out of town for a week of vacation. You’ve arranged for the post office to hold your mail and a neighbor to feed the cat, but who else knows your home will be vacant?” says Rosalind Scott, Executive Director of the BBB of Vancouver Island. “It’s possible hundreds or thousands of people might know, depending on the personal information your family members have posted on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or MySpace.”

Social networking sites provide a great opportunity for people to connect with friends, share photos and videos, and generally keep people up-to-date on what is going on in their various social circles.

But many people using social networking sites (especially children and teenagers) do not fully understand the implications of posting personal information, photos and comments.

Some users routinely share information about their families, where they live, go to school, when they are on vacation, birthdates and other details that can compromise the privacy and safety of a household or individual.

“Parents, grandparents, relatives and friends all need to understand the dangers that lurk online. We need to talk about and monitor these dangers, in order to protect the ones we love,” says Scott. “Identity theft and fraud initiated online are problems that are not going away anytime soon.

“We need to be vigilant, keep educated and empower one another to protect ourselves.”

Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to keep children, teenagers and families in general safe online:

  • Think about the difference between sharing and over-sharing – While social networking is about sharing photos, thoughts and experiences, you should never share personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, bank account numbers, passwords or Social Insurance Numbers.  Also think about what constitutes inappropriate photos or language and be aware that while you may be able to delete them—you can never fully take them back.
  • “Never talk to strangers” applies online too – One of the first rules we teach our kids is to never talk to strangers; remind them that the rule holds true when online. And it should apply to adults as well. Even though chatting with a stranger online can seem harmless, the relationship can evolve and grow until the stranger has earned your trust—and can then exploit it.
  • Use strict privacy settings – Social networking sites let users determine whom they want to share information with. Be sure to restrict access to your profile so that only friends or users in safe networks can view it.
  • Keep the channels of communication open – Let your kids know that you are always ready to talk if they are ever threatened, bullied or feel uncomfortable about an experience they had online.

 

For more tips on protecting yourself from becoming a victim of fraud visit vi.bbb.org.

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