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13 Million Americans Leave the Door Open to Identity Theft on Social Networks
added: 2011-03-23

Nearly 13 million Americans aged 18 or older who are on social networking sites will accept any social media connection request from a member of the opposite sex, regardless of whether or not they know that person, according to a recent survey. The survey of 1,011 U.S. adults, of whom 387 have joined an online social networking site, conducted via telephone by Harris Interactive® on behalf of ID Analytics last month, also found that men on social networking sites are more than twice as likely as women to accept any and all invites from someone of the opposite sex (18 percent compared to seven percent for women).

While adult Americans are willing to accept online connection requests on social media networks, only half (50 percent) of those who are on social networking sites actually trust those connections to keep their data private. Despite this lack of trust, the survey also found that more than 24 million Americans on social networking sites keep their online profiles "mostly public," meaning anyone can see their personal details.

Other Key Findings:

Younger Men More Likely to Accept Invites -Directionally, the study found men between the ages of 18 to 34 on social networks were the most likely to accept invites from anyone of the opposite sex compared to older men.

Grabbing All the Friends You Can Get - The survey also found that five percent of U.S. adults on social networks will accept any friend request they receive—regardless of who sends them.

What Type of Friend Matters - Not all social networks are created equal. U.S. adults who have joined an online social network were twice as likely to state that it is important to have as many business social media contacts as possible (39 percent), compared to personal connections on social networks (19 percent). This sheds some insight into possible avenues of approach by fraudsters.

"American's lack of caution in friending members of the opposite sex online is striking," said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer for ID Analytics, Inc. "Friending someone online is not risk-free. Just as in the bricks-and-mortar world, it makes sense to exercise a bit of prudence. Most social networking profiles contain personal information that can be used by fraudsters, and when you friend someone, you are giving them access to this information."

Fraudsters can use information in social networking profiles to build the dossiers they need to beat challenge questions and other security measures on financial accounts. The key identity elements that consumers should be careful before exposing on social networks can be seen in the image above.

Consumers can check their risk of identity fraud at This free online service gives consumers immediate insight into whether their personal identifiable information is being used fraudulently to obtain assets, goods or services.

Source: PR Newswire

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