Keep your identity healthy with simple precautions on social networks

These days, your identity can have health issues, just as your body and mind do.

If you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social network website, be very careful about posting specific personal information — you might be compromising your identity health.

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

Recent Carnegie Mellon research shows 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 team gathered publicly available information from social networks and other online sources to match names with birthdates 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.

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

Get urgent health alerts, warnings and insights delivered straight to your inbox