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Social Media, Smartphones Open Door To ID Thieves

Most Notary Signing Agents and small business owners depend on smartphones and Facebook to help conduct business. But social media Web sites and mobile devices are proving to be a boon to identity thieves, according to the 2012 Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Research & Strategy.

People with LinkedIn profiles, for example, are twice as likely to report incidents of fraud as the general public, according to Javelin’s findings. In 2011, more than 11.6 million consumers were victims of identity theft — a 13 percent increase from the previous year.

Javelin credits the jump in part to the fact that many social media and mobile device users fail to take the proper steps to protect sensitive information. For example, 62 percent of smartphone owners do not use a password and 33 percent store login information on their devices. And two-thirds of social media users post personal information about themselves on their profiles.

For entrepreneurs and small business owners, these behaviors can do more than compromise their identities. Would-be thieves can use the information to steal sensitive customer information as well as your business’ identity, which can result in steep fines from government agencies and costly consumer lawsuits.

Javelin offers suggestions for safeguarding sensitive information:

  • Avoid posting private information such as a birthdate, pet’s name, or phone numbers in public forums, as this is the type of information that companies or credit cards often use to verify your identity.
  • Update smartphone operating systems when they become available.
  • Place a secure password on your phone’s home screen; avoid ones that are easy to guess, such as a pet’s name or maiden name.
  • Avoid saving login information and passwords into your phone where thieves might access them.
  • If you suspect fraud, report any possible problems immediately.

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