Fraud Risk On Facebook And MySpace + You should be carefull about your mortgage and college loans:
Last Edited: Sunday, 11 Nov 2007, 10:30 PM PST
Created: Sunday, 11 Nov 2007, 9:00 PM PST
Sophisticated and organised criminals throughout the UK are routinely stealing the identities of those who post private information on social networking sites.
According to the financial website fool.co.uk, as many as one in three Facebook and MySpace users are virtually giving away their IDs to those keen on using it for illegal purposes.
Most “personal profiles” contain enough detail for a fraudster to begin the trawl for confidential information that can eventually allow them to pretend to be someone else, possibly you.
Dawn Telfer is one of thousands of people across the country who has had their identity stolen from the internet.
Dawn missed seeing her friends and work colleagues while on maternity leave. Discovering social networking sites gave her the ability to stay in touch.
Most of the websites insist on certain personal details before they will allow you to set up an account with them.
She had to provide private information such as “full” name, address, phone number, email and date of birth, much of which went onto her online profile.
It ended up costing her ??6,000 when someone stole her identity after reading about her on MySpace.
“They were able to contact my bank and set up two overdrafts in my name then transfer the money out,” said Dawn.
“The bank told me that they would only refund the money if I could prove the transfer was fraudulent. You try proving that you haven’t made an online transfer. During the months they investigated, they froze my bank account!”
Tony Neate from Get Safe Online told Sky News: “You should only post information on these sites that you would be happy to give a complete stranger at a bus stop.
“80% of internet users now have anti-virus and firewall software protecting their computers. That’s good, but now they now have to learn about the new risks associated with social networking sites. The vast majority are simply playing into the hands of those who can steal their identity.”
Last year, ??30 billion was spent online in the UK alone. Organised criminals have worked out that the virtual world is where they need to target their efforts.
Having someone steal an identity has become too easy if we don’t protect our personal information.
“The identity thief doesn’t necessarily find all the information he needs from a social networking site, but a full profile posted by someone who has been indiscreet can provide enough for him to go digging on other websites,” says Tom Ilube from Garlick, an organisation set up to help protect online identities.
He says identity thieves have become incredibly sophisticated.
Say one has managed to use your personal information to order a credit card in your name. The challenge would then be to get hold of that card that is bound to be sent to your home address.
Armed with your confidential personal details, Tom Ilube says thieves now use that information to access the Royal Mail online redirection service.
They could have all your post including the credit card sent to another house, perhaps one that is unoccupied.
Bingo – someone is going shopping with money for which you are liable.
Dawn Telfer has now had the stolen ??6,000 refunded by the bank. Her indiscretion online nearly cost her more than just cash she didn’t have.
“With all the stress, I ended up in hospital with high blood pressure and even had to have my baby six weeks early because the doctors were becoming worried my condition could threaten both of us.”
All this from being too open about herself online.