Social media can be a great way to stay connected with your loved ones — but a few simple mistakes can jeopardize your credit, get you caught up in a scam, or open you up to fraud. Here’s a look at how over-sharing on social media can potentially endanger your finances.
Keep tickets private
If you’ve just bought tickets for your dream vacation, it’s only natural that you want to share the good news with all of your friends. But before you post a picture of your boarding pass, consider censoring a little private information. Nondescript tidbits of data, like bar codes and serial numbers, can provide a lot of information to fraudsters. For instance, an unauthorized party can use this information on your airline boarding pass to steal your account and your loyalty points, explains Susannah Snider, a contributor to U.S. News & World Report.
Safeguard your cards
From gift cards to driver’s licenses, it’s a good idea to keep your cards in your wallet, not on your social media timeline. Whether you’re looking to flex the haul of gift cards you got for your birthday or a brand-new driver’s license, posting pictures of these cards can lead to fraud, according to Snider. ID cards are loaded with personally identifiable information that criminals can use for fraudulent purposes. Credit cards, prepaid debit cards, and gift cards are also easy targets for fraudsters, so consider posting a picture of the glittery birthday card that Granny sent instead of the gift card inside.
Play it safe with personally identifiable information
Do not give out personal information online. Sharing your phone number, home address, date of birth, and email address can give criminals enough information to piece together a pretty useful picture — one that can be used to open fraudulent accounts that compromise your credit.
Phony debt collectors
Social media makes it easy to get in touch with friends and family, but these convenient channels for communication can be a boon for scammers. First off, if you receive a comment on a post from a person or entity claiming to be a debt collector, understand that it’s a scam. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires debt collectors to contact you privately. But that isn’t the only red flag to watch out for. Fake debt collectors will often make threats, use abusive language, or ask for the debt to be repaid in unorthodox ways, such as via gift cards or cryptocurrency. Legitimate debt collectors are required to disclose information about your debt, such as the amount you owe and the name of the creditor. To verify your debts, Nerdwallet contributor Lauren Schwahn suggests evaluating your credit report using a trusted website like AnnualCreditReport.com. And even if the debt is real, repay it through the lender’s official website — avoid clicking links sent to your DMs just in case you’re talking to a fraudster.
Want more tips on staying safe online? Check out the Federal Trade Commission website for the latest insight on avoiding scams and online fraud.