September 19th, 2012

5 Facebook Privacy Tips to Prevent a Burglary or Fraud

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facebook privacy

Facebook connects more than 800 million people across the globe. But the world’s largest social network can sometimes leave users wondering if their connections are putting their security at risk.

There are strategies you can take to limit your vulnerabilities to a burglary or theft. By using sound judgment and enabling Facebook’s advanced security layers, you can better protect your privacy and limit what others see and know about you—particularly those unsavory types.

Follow these five tips to stay safe on Facebook and other social media sites:

1. Limit your sharing.

It’s estimated that two-thirds of burglaries are committed by someone who knows the victim “at least a little.” Are you posting photos from your tropical vacation, “checking in” from the local bar, or tagging friends in your posts (that means all their friends can now see your post)? These seemingly innocent actions can tip-off would-be burglars, so start by limiting sharing just to friends (go to “Privacy Settings” and select “Friends” as your default).

If you must share personal details, create a custom list, which make posts visible only to those you choose. And, get this: If the GPS is enabled on your phone, any pictures you take will contain geographic coordinates of where the photo was shot. So you might want to disable your phone’s GPS if the photos reveal your home or work address.

2. Take precautions on public computers.

Is your password an impossible-to-guess combination of letters, numbers and symbols? That doesn’t offer nearly the protection you think it does when you’re on a public computer or device. If you’re going to log-on from work, a business center or another unknown computer, you can request a single-use password by texting “OTP” (one-time password) to 32665 (FBOOK). Facebook will send a temporary password that’s only good for a single login within 20 minutes.

Most importantly, always log out when you’re done. Though, if you forget, you can remotely close the active session from the “Security” section of your “Account Settings” page.

3. Keep your birthday to yourself.

While it can be fun to read all the well-wishes that blanket your wall when friends are notified it’s your birthday, have you considered that a birth date is data point used to access your financial accounts? Along with your city, place of employment and even seemingly innocuous information like your high school, pet name or mother’s maiden name, your birthday should be kept private to limit your vulnerability to identity theft and fraud.

4. Monitor account activity.

Worried that your account could be compromised? Under you “Account Security” page, select “Account Settings” and “Login Notifications.” Every time you login from a computer or mobile device, Facebook will email you an alert. If you receive an alert and you did not just login, you’ll know your account has been compromised. You can then report your Facebook account as hacked, which will prompt a lock down. You’ll need to complete a security check in order to restore access.

5. Take control of your apps.

Whenever you run a game or an app on Facebook, it can potentially access all your data, including your list of friends, your name, gender and birthday. And, unless you intervene, friends can share your information with apps they use. While it’ll prevent you from using any games or apps through Facebook, you can block friends’ apps from accessing your profile by turning off all apps; go to the “Privacy Settings” page, then to “Ads, Apps and Websites”, and then “Edit Settings” when you can “Turn off” apps.

If that seems drastic and you still want to use retain access for apps like Instagram on your account, you can adjust the level of access apps have to your data, along with your friends’ apps by going to “How people bring your info to apps they use” and clicking on “Edit Settings”.

What other Facebook privacy tips do you have? How do you stay safe?

This post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the article. We all need to be more proactive about our personal account security. One thing you failed to mention that to me is important is taking advantage of their two-factor authentication which is called Login Approvals. If you opt into Login Approvals, you will have to “Confirm your phone”. You would receive a text message with a one-time specific code to be entered into the system. If you don’t want to do this every single time, you can designate your smartphone, PC, or tablet as a trusted device and they will allow you to telesign in without the text code for 30 days. Should an attempt to login from an unrecognized device happen, it would not be allowed without receiving the one-time passcode on your phone. To me this is a prerequisite to promote yourself as being a secure system.

    Benny at 9:19 am on September 20, 2012

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