Boston Public Library
Teens

Stealing Your Identity Online

by Anna

No one wants to know it happens. Certainly, it’ll never happen to YOU. Why would anyone want to steal your identity and act as you? That’s what you’re thinking.

What are they thinking? Ah! Here’s an unsuspecting person who’s innocent in every part of his life. I can become him, and run up a credit card bill that’ll cost him millions and me nothing. Here’s someone who’s freely given me every aspect of his life so that I can be him and get a college degree… wonder if Harvard Law would let me in? Or even, Hey, now that I know everything there is to know about this guy, I can pretend to be him online and his friends will never know the difference. I’ll say bad stuff to his girlfriend and she’ll break up with him… He wants the same job I do, let’s see how I can ruin that chance for him… what else can I do?

Plenty.

This is what could happen if you fill in all the missing blanks on FaceBook’s new Timeline. You’re telling the world every little detail about your life, and that’s not a good thing. It makes it easier for hackers to break into your email, and even take over your computer. Why? Because oftentimes people use passwords related to things from their life. What’s your mother’s maiden name? Or the name of your first dog? The street you live on? What high school do you go to? It only takes a good hacker a few minutes to go through your information and come out with a good password or two.

When you get your first bank account and your first paycheck goes into it, you want to make sure it stays there until YOU take it out. Right? Be aware that any passwords or codes you use could easily be found out by those hackers.

Right now, yes, your personal information is out there, on Facebook and other social networking sites, but as a Sophos Security researcher has stated, it’s not in an easy to search form. The newly unveiled Timeline will make it that much easier for hackers and identity thieves to steal anything they want from you, including yourself.

Imagine getting your driver’s license. You’ve been driving for a few years and you’ve got a spotless record. Then you begin driving in a new state and get pulled over for speeding, or because you simply forgot to use your turn signal. When the police officer runs your name, he or she might discover that your licence has been pulled in another state and that you’re not allowed to drive. Why? Because someone else has the exact same name as you. But who’s to say you’re not that person? Now you can’t drive until you get the situation sorted out. In both states. That’s a real situation a friend of mine found himself in, only because there really is someone else out there with his exact first, middle, and last name. But, someone else could be posing as you and you could find yourself in that same situation, regardless.

Or what about someone competing for your job? What happens if they gather that information you’ve freely given them and use it against you to get the job you’ve been trying for?

In short, posting personal information online is a dangerous thing to do regardless of what form it’s in. But Facebook’s new Timeline only makes it easier for crooks to get into your life and ruin it in ways you never thought possible. And it doesn’t matter how old you are. Whether you’re 5 years old, 12, 16, or 62, crooks can do damage that might take you forever to repair. So please be careful when you’re out there posting information about yourself, no matter where you’re posting it.

For more information on Facebook’s Timeline and the problems it could cause, check out this article on ComputerWorld.com  http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9220240/Facebook_s_Timeline_will_be_boon_for_hackers?taxonomyId=17&pageNumber=1

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