Special Report: Using social media, safely

Special Report: Using social media, safely
Inv. Adam Lamb (WALB image)
Inv. Adam Lamb (WALB image)
Ivy Chupp (WALB image)
Ivy Chupp (WALB image)
(WALB image)
(WALB image)

PELHAM, GA (WALB) - Your name and birth date. Sometimes, that's all a crook needs to steal your identity.  And with the social media-filled culture we live in, that's readily available information on any of your social media accounts.

But there are ways to avoid becoming victims of identity theft, burglary, and fraud online.

We all use social media to stay in touch with long distance family members and friends.

Several times a day, we're checking in on Facebook, posting pictures on Instagram, and tweeting about what we're up to.

But all of that sharing opens up an array of opportunities for criminals.  And even the smallest bit of information can do a lot of damage.

These days, it's rare to find someone who isn't on social media.  "Between Twitter, Facebook, Vine, you name it. It's so common, it's hard to find people that don't have it," said Pelham PD Investigator Adam Lamb.

From sharing your vacation plans, photos of your children, even a newly acquired license, you're setting yourself up to become a possible target.

Nobody thinks about it, nobody thinks about it. Sometimes just the smallest, craziest stuff is just enough to get more and more and more," Lamb said.

Pelham Police Investigator Adam Lamb says we live in a culture where sharing is expected.

"They're bad about just talking about what they're doing, when they're doing it, and where they're going."

Even he admits he's shared too much on the web.

"I can go to 'Check Ins.'  See, even I do it. There are places I've been," Lamb said.

In just a few clicks, your 'friends' on Facebook can see where you are at that very moment. "You never know who's on Facebook or who you can trust,"  said Albany Mother Ivy Chupp.

Chupp says she's super cautious when it comes to sharing anything on her Facebook page.  "I try to use common sense.  You can't trust everybody out there.  So when I put my kids' pictures out there, I try not to use their names."

Investigator Lamb says you may not think someone would steal your child's identity, but all they need is your child's name and date of birth,

"It happens every day. People have the lights turned on in your child's name and you won't even know it."

And what about pics from your trip to the beach?  "Hey, I'm not at home.  Come do whatever you want to," said Lamb.

"It's kind of a dead giveaway.  'Hey We're at the beach, my whole family's with me, and my house is empty!'" said Chupp.

Chupp says she waits several days after returning from vacation to share her photos.

Other information to avoid posting?  Your mother's maiden name.

"What is one of the main security questions they ask you when you do a credit card application?" asked Lamb.

And while you may think those people you call 'friends' on Facebook are your actual friends, it's simple for them to take advantage of the information you put out.

"Nine times out of 10, it's somebody you know."

So when in doubt, think TMI.  Too much information on your social media account leads to crimes of opportunity.

"There's just so many bad people out there. You just have to stop and think about what you're posting before you post.  It's sad that we live in a world like that, but we do," Chupp said.

There are ways to make sure your posts on social media are private.  You can access your privacy settings on any social media account to see who is allowed to see your posts and who can access your information.

Investigator Lamb says it's better to be safe than sorry.

So make all of your accounts private-- and think twice before adding or accepting strangers.

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