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Identity Theft and Social Media

Identity Theft and Social Media

Social media has become a prevalent entity in society today. Thousands of people check into social media sites daily. According to Safko, “The big three social networks are Facebook, with over 800 million members; Twitter, with over 200 million members; and LinkedIn, with 120 million users” (2012, p. 30 – 31). Social media is used both in personal and business contexts. While there are many positive aspects to using social media such as connecting with friends and family who live far away or connecting with possible business ventures, there are negative aspects as well. Information entered any site on the Internet is not safe and can be accessed by anyone who has the knowledge to retrieve that information. Scams are also easier to run on social networking sites. However, the biggest problem with social networking seems to be identity theft. According to USA.Gov (2018), “Identity (ID) theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud”. Entering simple information like your birthdate and address can potentially become dangerous. Even though stealing an identity through social media may be just as easy as stealing an identity outside of the internet, some believe social media can make it easier for identities to be stolen because people post too many personal details on their social media pages and hackers can access information entered into the computer.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Social networking can be advantageous to people in many ways. One of the best aspects of social networking is the portability it now offers to its users. People are able to network with one another through social media on the Internet, by simply using a computer or a smart phone. Having the ability to access social networking sites by connecting to wireless Internet on a computer or smart phone, makes it quick and easy to use. Portability is one of the most significant reasons why so many people utilize social media to network. Another positive aspect of social media and networking is its immediacy. People can get the most recent news and information within seconds. If the user has access to their smart phone and Wi-Fi, breaking news is always right at their fingertips. It is becoming more common for news reporters to feed breaking news through social media platforms before any other resources. Arguably, social media is taking the place of newspapers as well as news channels. Some say that newspapers will soon become extinct, because of the immediacy offered by social media. Not only does social media offer portability and immediacy to its users, it has also become very easy to use. Most popular social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are free to the public. Setting up a social media account simply requires an individual to have an email address. Once a social media profile is created, the user can network, browse content, add and remove followers, and create posts freely. It is just that simple. Having access to these social media platforms allows users to meet new people. Essentially it gives people the opportunity to introduce themselves and follow people online, that they may otherwise never have the chance of connecting with in real life. Another great aspect of social networking is the ability provided for people to keep in constant contact with one another. Having social media as a means of communicating with others in the community, helps people to stay in touch more often. Most people find it easier to connect with others online, rather than meeting face to face, and it allows people to stay in touch more often because it is easier.

Concern and Discussion

A person should be able to feel safe not matter what the circumstances are. There are times that people should be able to do as the please without looking over their shoulders to make sure that they have the right kind of security. “In a modern economy, sellers are willing to offer goods and services to strangers in exchange for a promise to pay, provided the promises is backed up by data that link the buyer to a specific account or credit history”, (Anderson 2008). The issue of this matter is that a person’s identity is never safe. People should have a chance to be the person that they want to be without anything coming between them. It is a threat to the world so that a person will have to make the choice to be more careful with what they are doing. The thing with life is that a person should be able to make mistakes to learn from to ensure that they do not do that again. There are plenty of offers out there for people to grab, but people will have to be careful and not to take others up on their offers because they can and will endanger your life.  However, cyber criminals are finding ways to collect information. There can be a data breach or turning to social media sites to obtain that information. Often there are some social media sites that have app that ask for permission to access one’s account information before installing and this is one of the ways they gain access to commit fraud. One of the most evident consequences that identity theft victims encounter is financial loss. (Ryder, 2017) It comes from direct and indirect forms. A direct form is the loss of money that is stolen or misused by the criminal. Such as activities with credit card transaction or personal information being used to acquire unauthorized accounts. Beyond money loss, identity theft can negatively impact credit scores. Credit card companies detect majority of credit card frauds, but the rest can go undetected for extended amounts of time. A criminal’s delinquent payments, cash loans, or even foreclosures slowly manifest into lowering of credit scores. (“A Lasting Impact: The Emotional Toll of Identity Theft “) Victims usually only discover the problem when they are denied for a loan or credit card application and these types of fraud take a long time to resolve. Social media sites generate revenue with targeted advertising, based on one’s personal information. (“How Social Media Networks Facilitate Identity Theft and Fraud”) Those sites encourage users to provide as much information as possible. While these sites have limited supervision or privacy and identity protection which exposes the user to identity theft and fraud. Those platforms have many confidential user information and are likely to be susceptible to attack. Those social networks leak information through a combination of HTTP header information. (“How Social Media Networks Facilitate Identity Theft and Fraud”) The third-party aggregators can link social network identifiers to past and future Web site visits in doing so identifying a person’s online activities. While the privacy policies of third party aggregators usually proclaim the sharing of non-identifying info, they do not make it clear that an identity can be copied from allegedly non-identifying info. The deceased are intentionally targeted so even in death; the risk of identity theft is a concern. (“How Social Media Networks Facilitate Identity Theft and Fraud”) Scammers find their victims online and combine that information with Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns, open new accounts and/or commit other types of financial fraud. The protect the information of the loved one specific details should be withheld such as the day and month of birth also the addresses in public obituaries. (Mali, 2013)

 

Conclusion

While social networking sites can be a positive force in the world today, allowing for connections across the continent and better business, there are disadvantages that come with them as well. The amount of personal information posted on these social networking sites can lead to negative outcomes. The biggest concern is the identity theft that takes place through social networking. Identity theft is the act of stealing someone’s personal information with intentions of using it for personal gain. Individuals tend to post a lot of personal information on their social networking pages such as their middle name, home address, and date of birth. The easy access to this information makes the act of stealing an identity quite easy. Not only does identity theft ruin the victim’s name, it can also negatively affect their credit score, and it can cost the victim money. It is recommended that individuals refrain from posting such personal information in order to protect their identity as well as investing in an internet security software to help protect the information that is entered into any web page. Protecting an individual’s identity simply boils down to taking precautions on social media sites, as one would in real life.

References

  • A Lasting Impact: The Emotional Toll of Identity Theft [PDF]. (2015, February).
  • Anderson, K., Durbin, E., & Salinger, M. (2008). Identity Theft. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 22(2), 171-192. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27648247
  • How Social Media Networks Facilitate Identity Theft and Fraud. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.eonetwork.org/octane-magazine/special-features/social-media-networks-facilitate-identity-theft-fraud
  • Mali, J. (2013, July 05). Identity Theft Through Social Networking? Lessons to Take Now! Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/identity-theft-through-social-networking-lessons-take-now.html
  • Ryder, J. (2017, November 10). Identity Theft Protection, Pros and Cons Of Identity Protection. Retrieved from https://www.simplethriftyliving.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-identity-theft-protection/
  • Safko, L. (2012). the Social Media Bible: Tactics, tools, & strategies for business success (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved from the University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.
  • USA.Gov. (2018). Identity Theft. Retrieved from https://www.usa.gov/identity-theft


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