Digital footprints - taking a step in the right direction

Posted by Paul Anderson Riley in Identity Theft on 1 December 2016 - Paul is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

Credit reports and the internet are now not too far away from each other in evaluative skill, as there is a lot that can be learnt about an individual from their online presence.

The emergence of social scoring has highlighted the importance of knowing how you are represented online and how this could impact applications for jobs, tenancies or credit agreements. The ability to check your social score has recently been incorporated into the checkmyfile multi-agency credit report.

Analysts are also constantly reporting the increase of cyber fraud and this is evident in the increasing exposure in the news. This too highlights the importance of knowing what is held about you online and how this can impact you on a day-to-day basis.

Like credit agreements that aren’t being used, dormant social media accounts are also useful for fraudsters to attack as they are not actively being monitored. In either situation, it would be advisable to close these accounts to be certain they cannot be accessed by any cyber criminals.

For social media accounts you are regularly using it would be recommendable to check the privacy settings for your specific account. Sometimes making personal information publicly available may make you more vulnerable to fraud and could also impact your social score. Twitter has, since 2013, archived every tweet since 2006 even if you have deleted your account. If you are not actively using Twitter or have deleted your account, it would still be advisable to change your privacy settings so that only followers can access this information.

Historic data from social media may relate to different times that you may not want a potential employer, landlord or lender to see. On most social media platforms you can delete old posts or amend what can be seen. It is not only the posts that you write, either, as posts you have been tagged in could also be taken into consideration. For social accounts that cannot be deleted, you can usually change your name to something different to avoid this being easily searched and matched with yourself.

Doing a Google search or Bing search on your name should quickly reveal any personal information held online. If you feel that certain results shouldn’t be displayed you can ask these to be removed by the search provider, or you can contact the provider that holds the information. Some landline and mobile phone companies publish phone numbers online, so it would be advisable to contact your provider to ask if they can remove this online if they follow this practice and you don’t want your personal number to made available.

Finally, be wary of people contacting you by email or phone that seem to already hold a wealth of information. Some scam artists may build a profile of you using publically available data before contacting you to seem more credible. If any uncertainty exists, simply say you are unable to talk and do some research into the company that contacted you. You can always call back if needed.

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