How safe do you feel on social media? Nearly two out of three U.S. adults have been victims of social hacking.
Criminals don’t just want access to your social media accounts to try and trick your connections into sending them money; these accounts often contain a treasure trove of personal information so that these thieves can steal your identity. Thieves are even hacking into social media profiles to infiltrate organizations, create elaborate personalized phishing scams that can fool both consumers and businesses, and sell personal information on the Dark Web.
It’s a Family Affair: From Parents to Children, Everyone is at Risk
In 2021, 72 percent of U.S. residents have at least one social media profile. Now, think about all of the information contained within those profiles—private messages, photos of your family, your entire work history—and you’ll begin to understand why identity thieves spend a great deal of time looking for ways into your social media accounts.
Cybercriminals aren’t just using social media to steal your personal information—they’re watching your kids, too. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 4% of all identity theft victims are under the age of 20. A child’s “blank slate” credit history is extremely attractive to thieves trying to open new bank accounts or credit cards. Even scarier, some thieves engage in digital kidnapping, which means they steal photos of a child under 18 and post those pictures on social media or a website and pretend the child is their own.
How Identity Thieves Hack into Social Media Accounts
Identity thieves can find their way into your social accounts using any number of techniques.
Do you ever download free games or third-party apps? Many times, those apps request access to your social media profiles, contacts, and more—and most people just say “yes” because they assume nothing bad will happen. However, this is an easy entry point for thieves who are ready to pounce on stealing your identity.
Another way hackers break into accounts is via public Wi-Fi hotspots. Have you ever connected to the public Wi-Fi at Starbucks while you were waiting for a friend to arrive? What about using the Wi-Fi at the airport before boarding your flight to pass the time? You never know who is also tapped into that connection and waiting to hack into your social media accounts.
Many people are also logged in to their social media accounts nonstop because the apps are installed on their smartphones. Any time you’ve left your phone unattended—even when you believe you’re in the company of those you can trust—you set yourself up for unauthorized access.
When Social Media Identity Theft Impacts Your Business
Theft of information on social media isn’t just a consumer problem—it can be a nightmare for employers, as well. For example, imagine your company’s social media manager grabs a picture of your team to post on the company’s Facebook page. However, in the background, there’s a whiteboard with details about a confidential project, plus the login for your team’s intranet page. She shares the picture, and no one realizes that private company information has just been posted and now leaked online.
Thieves know these things happen—and they’re always waiting, watching, and ready to act when it does. They’re even using artificial intelligence algorithms that let them scan public images for network passwords, which means these types of accidents are more common than one would imagine.
Some hackers scan websites like Twitter, waiting for especially active employees to leak company details or information about interests they have. They use that information to create personalized phishing attacks targeting that individual with offers or compelling content based on their preferences because hackers know they’re more likely to have a higher rate of success.
Identity thieves are getting more and more clever when it comes to finding ways to steal private data and information. Even with strong passwords, strict social media policies, and two-factor authentication, there are ways into your company and personal life—and hackers will find those ways.
Keep Your Family Safe From Social Media Identity Theft and More
At IdentityForce, our members have frequently voiced concerns about the possible threats lurking on social media. They do their best to protect the information contained in their social profiles, but they realize the problem is bigger than what they can control or manage on their own.
That’s why we’re one of the first to include a Social Media Identity Monitoring Suite with our identity theft protection plans. We monitor your (and your family’s) Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram accounts for threatening social activity, posts that are profane, violent, or could be categorized as cyberbullying or discriminatory.
Here’s a short two-minute video to help you learn more about what these features offer our members: