One of the issues of growing concern right now is that of online privacy, and the security of your information. With so much happening on the Internet, and so much information out there, it can help to know how much privacy you can really expect with your information all over the place, and you need to know how to keep your information as safe as possible.
Information You Share Online
First of all, it’s important to understand that when you put information on the Internet, you can’t truly expect it to be private. No matter your privacy settings, there is always the chance that your information can be seen by others. Indeed, many companies are checking social media profiles — and even asking for access to your account.
There have also been anecdotes of lenders making decisions about you, based in part on information you post online. A bank might decide to look at the kinds of things you say about money in your profiles. And there are also stories about an increased amount of profiling by banks and others. The information that you share online, as well as other information that might be available through different channels, such as credit reporting agencies.
When you share information online, there is the potential that someone else is looking at it. From innocuous-seeming tweets, to comments left on blogs, the information you share online can be sued for a number of purposes. You can be tracked through your online movements. In some cases, you might not even realize you’re sharing information online. There have already been instances of people who are upset that their images appear on Google Earth.
However, if you put the information out there, it’s not very practical to assume that it’s completely private. Images, off-hand comments, and other bits of information are on the Internet. And, in a world where newspapers are digitized, it’s possible for someone to find information about you if you were mentioned in your local paper.
For some people, that isn’t that big of a deal. A bit of personal information doesn’t bother some consumers who feel as though the connectivity and the opportunities (for career networking and for other situations) offered by sharing online are worth it. If you are going to share information online, though, it’s important to be careful.
Watch Out for Scams
More on Online Safety
One of the biggest reasons you need to be wary about sharing online is due to the way that others can use the information against you. There are scammers out there who will use the information you share in an effort to defraud you. From investment fraud, to bad credit loan scams, to stealing your identity, there are various scams that can be used with the information online:
- Your email address can be used to send you phishing emails, meant to get information from you, including passwords and other information.
- What you share online can be used to let others know where some of your weak points might be, and what might be more likely to believe and agree to.
- Social media information is often used in affinity scams. Using information that might be publicly available, scammers can get just enough information to pose as someone you might know, or someone you might be acquainted with.
- Personal information shared can be used in identity theft. When you share your birth date online, and your name, it is possible for others to pose as you. Information about your family, where you went to high school, and more can all be used to steal your identity.
- Online friends can turn out to be the opposite. One of the most dangerous things you can do is to trust people you meet online with personal information. However, we meet people online, and we can even become friends with them. It’s important to be careful of those you trust, since you never know who is really on the other end.
Online privacy is practically a thing of the past. Information is being collected by a number of companies. Your browsing history can be used to target ads to you. And, of course, your habits can also be catalogued and used for other purposes. Consumer habits, searches, and more can be found online, and stored. On top of that, it’s possible for scammers to find information online that make their schemes more believable.
Be aware of what information you are sharing, and be wary of those who contact you offering “opportunities.”
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.