Social media has changed the way that we interact with one another. It has brought the entire world closer together while at the same time it can also be argued that it is tearing us apart.
Likewise, we all probably have a bit of a love / hate relationship with social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and similar platforms where we are able to share tidbits about our lives.
Sharing images and stories from your life can be a great way to keep your network informed about what you’ve been up to, but if you share the wrong information, it can also be a treasure trove of information for potential scammers.
While the WayWiser team is working to develop a secure, inner circle network where only your trusted family and friends would be able to see your information, platforms like Facebook make it easy for nearly anyone to see what you’ve been posting. This is why it’s so important to be aware of what you share on social media.
Some of the worrisome posts might be a bit more obvious than others, but collectively, they are all equally important as many times it is about a collection of posts that allow a potential bad character to piece together enough information in order to scam or otherwise exploit you.
Here are a few of the biggest items to avoid posting on social media:
Don’t Post Photos of Your Credit Cards on Social Media
This one most likely falls under the category of “obvious”, but you’d be surprised how often people do it. This website considers it one of the 3 stupid things that you can do with a credit card and while it hasn’t been updated in quite some time, this twitter account used to spend their time just reposting other people’s photos of their credit cards.
Why shouldn’t you do this? Well, as if it wasn’t obvious enough, if anyone remotely evil sees the image, they can now make online purchases rather simply with your personal card. Even if you try to be creative and block off a few numbers with your thumb, you’ve still given people a pretty good chance at figuring out those last few digits.
We get it, a new credit card can feel like something to celebrate, especially if you are younger and haven’t had a credit card before… but please, please don’t post a photo of your card online.
Don’t Post Photos of Your Driver’s License or Passport on Social Media
This one should be similarly obvious as a credit card, but happens far more often as people might not realize how important the information on these government issued ID’s can be. Plus, people get really excited when they receive their new driver’s license or passport and want to share it with the world.
But you need to watch out. Bad actors are always on the prowl for this sort of information. Not only can it be used to steal your identity, but if they are able to combine the information from your license with a tidbit of information that was received from another social media post, they just might have what they need for a full breach of your private information.
Quick Tip: If you want to show everyone how funny your new license or passport photo is, crop out or black out everything besides the picture of your face before posting.
When combined with other information, this is yet another reason why you shouldn’t answer phone calls from unknown numbers. If a team of scammers discovers your passport or driver’s license number and connects it with your phone number through other social media posts or details, they can use it to convince you that they are calling from a legitimate government office if you wind up answering their call or text by relaying your passport or driver’s license number to you as a sort of “verification” of their own identity as government officials.
This is a quick way to make the potential victim feel like it must be someone legitimate as they have your private information. But really, they just saw it on Facebook. So, whatever you do, don’t put this information out there for the world to see!
Don’t Post Photos of Your Immunization Records or Medical Prescriptions on Social Media
We’ve been hearing about this a lot on the news recently. People all over the country are posting images of their COVID immunization cards. It’s an exciting moment after being physically distanced all year. But that doesn’t mean it’s a specific image that should find itself on Instagram.
Similarly, this goes towards posting photos of any new medications that you’ve picked up or really any medical documents that have personal information – even if it doesn’t seem like something that would matter.
It seems innocent enough. The paperwork doesn’t have a whole lot of information and there likely isn’t much that a potential scammer could do with the serial number of your Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. But you always need to realize that financial exploitation is a puzzle for many criminals. They take one piece of information from a post about your passport, another from a mention of your phone number, and maybe now they have your birthday or your middle initial. It all adds up into a complete picture and makes you far more susceptible to fraud.
Don’t Post Your Address or Phone Number on Social Media
It may seem innocent enough. You moved into a new house and want to spread the word with a tweet. Perhaps you lost your phone and got a new number that you want to share with your friends on Facebook.
Instead of putting this information out there where nearly anyone can see or share it, just tell people something like “Hey everyone, I got a new phone number, send me a direct message or shoot me an email and I’ll send it to you!”
Again, this is one of those things that might seem relatively harmless, after all, a lot of this information might be publicly available already, but putting on social media just makes it that much easier for a potential scammer to piece their exploitation puzzle together.
Don’t Post Photos of Your Boarding Pass on Social Media
We see this one all of the time. You get to the airport. You’re ready for your big trip to Italy or New York or Fiji. You’ve got some time to spare while waiting to board the plane so you snap a photo of your boarding pass and post it to instagram – #travel #WorldTraveler #2TicketsToParadise.
It seems innocent enough. You’re just excited about the trip ahead. But just like with anything else that we’ve mentioned, the little bits of information can all add up.
Want to read a crazy story? The former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, once posted a photo of his boarding pass and within a couple of hours, his private accounts were hacked. There is actually a great podcast episode about the hacker who managed to break into his accounts with just the information from his boarding pass, and it’s pretty incredible to hear how easy it was. You can listen right here????
The moral of the story is that everything that you post online is at risk of being seen by people you don’t know; and, everything that you post can become a small piece of a larger puzzle that makes you susceptible to exploitation.
Social media can be a great tool. Sharing photos of your family and friends, great meals, cute cats, hilarious memes, and all your favorite hobbies and activities can help you keep in touch with friends and family. But it’s important that you never post any images that might contain private, identifying information.
As mentioned earlier, the WayWiser team is building a private social platform for older adults to stay connected and stay protected on a private, secure platform with their inner circle of connections. If you want to get on the waitlist for the app, enter email below.