Social networking provides easy information harvesting for identity thieves

Want to keep your identity healthy?

If you use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or any other social network website, be very careful about posting specific personal information.

It might seem like you’re just shooting the breeze with friends, but in many cases you’re sharing details with virtually anyone who might care to carefully examine your profile or notes that you send and receive.

Last year, two Carnegie Mellon researchers showed just how easy it would be for a determined criminal to discover your Social Security number. And once your SS number is compromised, you’re a cooked goose.

The CM pair gathered publicly available information from social networks and other online sources to match names with birth dates and city or state of birth. With just those three pieces of information they were able to accurately predict SS numbers for nearly nine percent of all people born in the U.S. between 1989 and 2003.

That’s an identity theft goldmine.

Their process was actually pretty complicated. Nevertheless, they made their point: If they can do it, somebody out there is probably doing it.

Tweet carefully.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson

“How Privacy Vanishes Online” Steve Lohr, New York Times, 3/16/10,