Note: This is part 2 of the series on Protecting Yourself on Facebook
Part 2: What information should you avoid putting into your Facebook Account?
Welcome to part 2 of my series on “Protecting Yourself from Facebook”. In this section we will examine what information doesn’t belong in your Facebook account. There are certain items that are very useful to hackers and identity thieves..and well criminals in general.
Remove Your Birthday
Do it. I know…you won’t get all those bday wishes but that is a key piece of information about you that shouldn’t be public. How many times are you asked your bday to identify you or an account that you have? You are giving that information away…and easily through your Facebook account. Consider putting a fake bday on there if you want..move it up or back by 5 days if you just have to have a bday on there.
Remove the Specific City you Live in
Don’t tell the world that you live in a suburb of Houston like Katy…just say Houston. Or remove it entirely. Giving away your specific city allows thieves to search records and narrow down the possibilities of which Joe Smith you are. I see 200 Joe Smiths…but only one in Katy, TX. That presents an opportunity to any thief or criminal. They know your name, your city; they will have your exact address very soon. And with your pic…well you get the picture.
Do NOT mention your Pet by Name
This is very common and on the surface it shouldn’t matter if you mention your dog’s name. The problem is that one of the most common password protection questions is “what is the name of your favorite pet?” Did you put in your current dog’s name? You did? Then I may have just gained access to your account. So remove your pet’s name or make damn sure you have never used it as your favorite pet.
Protect Your Kids
Are you using your kid’s names somewhere on your page? Is this information available? What about their ages or what they look like? There are some sicko’s out there so don’t let them even get a glimpse of your kids or their information. Remove it. You want your friends to see a new picture of your kids…send them an email or message it to them. Don’t put it up for their entire network of friends to see. I mean your friends have never dated or befriended anyone they shouldn’t have, right?
Is your place of employment visible to everyone? Does it really need to be? What does your employment say about you? The hours you work? The part of the city you work? Don’t your real friends already know where you work?
Your Phone Number and Email
Tell me it’s not on there. Just tell me you didn’t put it on there. Is that email a login for any account..maybe your bank account? Credit card account? That combined with all of that other info will give a hacker your password or at least let them reset it. Make sure only friends can see that email address and/or use one you do not use for any business accounts. And I don’t really need to explain the phone number part do I? Again, your friends already have this information or they are not friends. If it’s a friend you are reconnecting with then you can just message that information to them.
You might have to get creative with some of this to get around Facebook requirements. The choice is yours as to how far you want to go to restrict your information. At the end of the day, keep asking yourself “Don’t my friends already know this, who is this information really for”?