Most of the personal information needed by fraudsters to steal your identity can be found on your Facebook profile, cyber safety experts have warned.
Three pieces of data - your name, date of birth and address - can be all it takes for fraudsters to steal your identity and access your bank accounts, take out loans or take out mobile phone contracts in your name.
Recent YouGov research from Equifax has revealed that a high proportion of social media users risk identity theft by giving fraudsters easy access to this type of personal information.
The survey found that nearly 30 per cent of adults with a social media account include their full name and date of birth on their profile pages.
Finding out your age and where you live
And even if you don’t publicly show your age on your Facebook profile, it’s still simple for to work out your age from people offering birthday wishes on your timeline. Once they have your date of birth, they can find out where you live too.
It is advisable to review your privacy settings for your social media accounts - this guide will help: http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/facebook-privacy-settings-protecting-what-you-care-about
John Marsden, head of ID and fraud at Equifax, said: “People must act now to protect their finances for the long term. More adults in the UK are engaging with social media than ever before, especially on their smartphones, and a high number are readily sharing their personal information on these platforms.”
“Fraudsters get hold of this type of information so they can impersonate an individual, either by setting up accounts in their name or accessing existing accounts and stealing from them. The extent of damage can run to thousands of pounds worth of debt being racked up in your name. My advice to consumers is to be social savvy; avoid unnecessarily sharing personal details and risking your identity on platforms that can so easily be exploited. It’s always nice to receive well wishes on your birthday – but is it worth the risk?”