Social Networks While on Vacation: What You Shouldn’t Share

like, social media, social networking, writing on the beach, S.C. Rhyne

Everyone posts pictures, thoughts and stories of their travels on social media. However, while you’re on vacation, you should remain guarded about how long you’ll be gone, where you’ll be and when you’ll be there. This may sound paranoid, but the consequences of over-shared information can devastate your reputation and your financial life. Here are some do’s and don’ts of social media while you’re on vacation.

What You Should Not Do

Those who can see your profile on Facebook are second degree friends — this means that the friends of anyone you’re friends with can see your profile. Do you know them all? Doubtful. Don’t post specific departure and arrival times of your vacation. Nor should you post how long you’re gone or exactly where you are. This information might seem of little use, but not only does it inform people of when you’ll be gone, it could also give potentially dishonest people enough information about your trip to create a false-scenario email and scam people you know for money.

Connections are the best part of vacations, and with social media it’s easier to keep in touch and make plans than ever before. However, never post personal information on your or anyone else’s wall, feed or homepage. This includes email addresses, phone numbers and even dates, meet times and places.

What You Should Do

The Internet is permanent. Anything you post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. is out there forever. A picture can be copied by any number of users who see it, re-post and re-share it a thousand times. This includes your email or a phone number. Keep this in mind while abroad. What you do or do not post on social sites is as important as being aware of your surroundings.

Make sure you turn off the geotag option of your phone for pictures. Geotags let everyone know your exact location when you post a pic. Better yet, postpone what you share online until you arrive home. For those who enjoy hashtags, a popular one for pictures posted after the fact is #Latergram.

Consequences

The consequences of identity theft aren’t usually felt until an unexpected bill shows up at your door or a suspicious email makes your smartphone vibrate. A charge has just been made on a credit card in your name, or a collection agency demands payment. This is what happened to Amy Krebs in 2013. She found herself on the phone with a major credit card company who said someone had tried to open a line of credit in her name. When she delved deeper, she found that whoever had stolen her identity had also gained access to her credit reports.

The woman who stole Amy Krebs’ identity opened accounts using only Krebs’ name and a 10-year-old address where she had once lived. Whether the woman took this information from a piece of mail or a social network site such as Facebook, Krebs never found out, but this story serves as an example of how seemingly small information can lead to large consequences. That’s why it’s important to do your research and educate yourself about identity theft.

Also in 2013, many reports were filed in Japan where hackers duped everyday users out of their personal information. If a hacker gets control of one user’s profile, they can then dupe many of that user’s friends out of their personal information. In 2013 this came in the form of a link that had users enter their personal information, and since they thought the link was from a friend, they never suspected malicious intent.

So, have you had any similar experiences while away from home? Feel free to share your stories with me, I’m also on Facebook, twitter, or G+. Just make sure you’re careful of how much you share.

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