July 18, 2013

Facebook is the largest social network on the internet. It claims to have over 750 million users around the word and for the past six years has served as the platform to stay connected with friends and family, users say. But it is also a big showcase for romance scams and internet criminals who target victims on the social network.  Many internet criminals are finding that social networks like Facebook are more profitable than hunting for victims on online dating sites such as Match.com and eHarmony.  Their goal is to obtain as much information about you as possible, steal your identity and your money, and even use your photos and data for blackmail.

International investigators offer these tips to stay safe on Facebook and social media. 

1. Protect Your Privacy.
People do not need to know where you live, where you work or where you studied.  They definitely don't need to know your address or date of birth.  Criminals LOVE when you share a lot of information on the internet, because you become an easy target!

2. Know the Risk.
Even the CIA and U.S. government has a hard time protecting their data. Think what you share on Facebook is private?  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.  Don't take that chance.  Assume that what you share on Facebook is public information, and protect yourself.   

3. Use Photos Wisely.
Most internet criminals steal photos and profiles of real people, making their victims believe they are real.  If your name, photos and address or employer or school is published on the internet, scammers can easily use your profile on another website or through email on the internet.  That's right, your identity could be used to scam other victims.  Keeping your photos private is the most effective way at preventing a stolen profile. 

4. Keep it Private.
Check your account and private settings on Facebook and review them carefully.  Make sure your information is shared with those you trust and know.  Share less, and remove "friends" that you don't know well.  If you have 1,000 friends, chances are you have some crooks already on your friends list!  Limit your exposure and protect your privacy.

5. Screen Friend Requests.
Be careful about accepting friend requests of people you don’t know. Know the risk, and take a closer look at why the person wants to be your friend, and how he or she found you. The best way to get new friends is through your existing friends and family. 

6. Keep it Clean. 
Keep your content clean, monitor your Facebook and all content related to you.  If there’s a photo or a tag you don’t want to be online, ask your friends and family to remove it. Once a photo or information is in the wrong hands, it is too late to remove. 

7. Get a Background Check.
If you've met someone new on Facebook or a social networking site and want to meet the individual in person, or are considering a relationship with your internet contact, be safe and don't be a victim.  Consider a background check by a reputable investigator. 

8. Close Your Session.
Close your session and log out when you're done checking your Facebook.   Facebook and other third parties love to track your internet activity and sell your information.  Fight back and
protect your privacy.   Clear your cookies, check your browser settings, and consider add-ons such as Do Not Track Plus, to keep your internet browsing private. 

9. Watch for Spam.
Facebook is a popular place for spreading viruses by links sent from someone just added to your friends.  These links can hack your account, steal your data or even install a virus on your computer to steal your identity and all your banking passwords

10. Manage your Reputation.
What is shared online today, might not be something you want online tomorrow.  Selling and distributing your data is big business, and Facebook earns millions of dollars by collecting and selling information you share with them.  Manage your reputation, and make sure what goes online today, won't hurt your chances for a job or relationship tomorrow.

All the best,

S. Birch
© 2013 S. Birch

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This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, S. Birch, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as stated.