SAN DIEGO, Calif. (11/16/10)--As consumers flock to theatres to see "The Social Network," millions more are unwittingly exposing their identities and potentially critical financial information on popular social networking sites, according to a survey commissioned by ID Analytics. The 2010 Social Network Fraud Survey of 1,013 U.S. adults was conducted this month via telephone by Harris Interactive on behalf of ID Analytics, which is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. According to the survey, more than 24 million Americans age 18 or older leave their social network profiles mostly public. Millions more expose identity information, including birthdate, birthplace and current and previous addresses. Nearly 70 million people on social networking sites share their birthplace on their profiles. Birthplace is one of the most common "security questions" asked by financial institutions to verify someone's identity, said ID Analytics. "People do not realize how they are exposing their identities and potentially sensitive financial information to fraudsters on social networking sites such as Facebook," said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer for ID Analytics. Among the other common security questions posed by financial institutions to verify identities are a pet's name, their favorite book or music, or the color of their car. Consumers should realize that social networking sites provide fraudsters with a plethora of information that is ripe for the taking and take steps to protect themselves," said Oscherwitz. Other findings:
* Nearly 20 million Americans revealed their pets' names on their social networks. * Eighteen- to 34-year-olds are most likely to reveal personal information on the sites. ID Analytics cautioned about analyzing these results due to small base sizes. * Men and women on social networking sites share similar information about themselves. However, men are much more likely to share their current address than women are, and men are almost twice as likely to share photos of their car. Women are almost twice as likely to share pet names.
Consumers can check their risk of identity fraud at MyIDScore.com, a free online service that gives consumers insight into whether their personal identifiable information is being used for fraud in obtaining assets, goods or services.