With the growth of social media, including such popular sites as Facebook, Instagram, Linked-In and Twitter, millions of people can easily stay in touch and express themselves with friends, family and associates. But with the prevalence of hackers, it’s important to proactively keep yourself safe and your account and private information secure. Here are some helpful social media security tips for all age groups.
General social media security tips
- Don’t share your password. If you have shared it or suspect it’s been stolen, you should change your password immediately, so you, and only you, have access to your account.
- Change your password. It’s a good idea to change your password from time to time and choose a complex combination of letters and numbers, using upper and lower cases and other marks.
- Check your privacy settings. If you’re able to adjust the privacy settings, choose the right level to suit your comfort. Only choose to share the information you want with the people you choose to share it.
- Don’t accept invitations to connect from strangers. If the invitation comes from someone who shares a common connection, contact your mutual connection to confirm that the invitation is legitimate.
- Use good judgment when posting online. Internet content will last online forever, so be careful not to post something that might embarrass you, your family, or your business associates.
Use a few precautions while online to avoid common scams, especially if you’ve accumulated financial resources. Here are some tips to avoid common scams:
- Search your name. Every so often, enter your name into an Internet search engine, like Google, to see what information about you comes up. This is the kind of information a potential scammer would be able to find. If you think you’re sharing too much information, go to the privacy settings and restrict who can see your information and what information they can see.
- Make sure you know your social media "friends." When you receive a friend request, even if you know you have a friend in common, confirm that the request is legitimate. Make sure requests are coming from people who are actually who they say they are.
- Practice caution on dating sites. Even on legitimate dating sites, you don’t know if a person you meet through the site is telling the truth. When corresponding with potential dates, be suspicious of fake photos, frequent spelling errors, and expressions of love early in the relationship. You should also be concerned if someone you’ve been communicating with avoids an in-person meeting. Scammers often claim to be working overseas. Never send money to anyone you meet online, even if they seem sincere.
- Watch out for unsolicited callers. No one from the government, including the IRS, will ever call you to demand money or your personal information, or threaten legal action if you don’t provide it. If the government needs information, they will send a letter by mail, which includes a specific number and a person to call. According to the IRS, “A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls or emails from people who say they are from the IRS urging immediate payment. This is not how we operate. People should hang up immediately and contact TIGTA (the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) or the IRS.”
Looking for more information and other social media safety tips?
Check out these additional resources:
- Stay Safe Online
Learn how to protect yourself, your family and your devices with helpful tips and resources.
- Good digital parenting
Family Online Safety Institute's tips, tools and rules for online safety.
- Resources on Frauds Impacting Seniors
Helpful resources from the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.
- Do not call registry
Register your mobile and land lines to avoid unwanted telemarketing calls.
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