Sharing too much Information on Facebook can be Risky Business

Facebook is currently one of the most popular virtual destinations on the web. With over 900 million members in 2012, for several years now the network has maintained a path of growth, and offers many perceived benefits to people across the globe.

Using Facebook, however, does not come without its drawbacks. The larger the network has grown, the more attractive it becomes to scammers. Over time, a variety of scams, primarily fueled by social engineering techniques and malware infections, continue to plague Facebook, creating both identity and financial theft risks.

According to the Tennessean, Facebook scams can create bank account risk. Caitlin Doty, assistant attorney general with the Consumer Advocate & Protection Division of Tennessee, recently warned of the ways bank account related risks can emerge by using Facebook.

Here are some of the ways a bank account can be compromised from Facebook use:

• Profile pages

As Doty noted, information such as mother’s maiden names, names of high schools, high school mascots, parents and other family members are all listed on Facebook profiles, and these tidbits are all desired information by thieves.

These details create a valuable goldmine of information for any individual looking to pilfer bank accounts. “From there, technology unfortunately affords scammers the ability to create an ATM card with your account information. Bye-bye, money,” reported the Tennessean.

Sadly, the tools needed for thieves are frequently so easily, and unwittingly, handed over by the victims.

• Poor password practices

There are many ways people do not adequately protect themselves when it comes to passwords. Using short and simple passwords and/or the same password across multiple sites can increase your risk factor.

For instance, because passwords can be difficult to remember, people often use the same string of characters for multiple sites. If a Facebook account is compromised, and the individual has used the same password for online banking or other financial websites (such as PayPal), the person’s money is at risk.

To better protect yourself, create unique and strong passwords on all your accounts.

• Shared links

While Facebook is all about sharing, unfortunately this can quickly lead to compromised accounts. Scammers launch enticing or shocking  sounding links on the network and suddenly these URLs can spread like wildfire. In most instances, these links are not legit and, in some cases, send users to a falsified Facebook login page.

Unsuspecting users may enter their password and then once this is done, the exploiter has the password to the account, gaining access to all information not seen publicly, including account security questions. Or the link may lead to installed malware to track keyboard entries and/or steal personal information from the computer.

• Account security questions

While account security questions are designed to protect accounts, at the same time these can create risk, especially if poor password practices are followed. However, the questions asked are often the same ones asked by banks. Be sure and use different ones that you have applied to your Facebook account, and eliminate any information on the social network that is used in bank account security questions.

While Facebook is seen as being an advantageous website to be a member, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Do not rely on websites to protect your information, especially on sites such as Facebook, as there is a long history of privacy issues associated with the company. Over the years, since its birth in 2004, privacy has been a point of contention with the network and privacy advocates. Numerous times Facebook has battled privacy firestorms which have ranged from user outrage to lawmaker intervention.

Bottom line, be vigilant, use smart online practices and be aware and up-to-date on the new trends or scams that emerge. Interaction on Facebook can directly, or indirectly, lead to bank accounts being looted.