Protect Your Privacy: 5 Surprising Ways You Overshare Your Personal Information

Selfie of a white man, woman, and their toddler on vacation at a beach.

We share our stories, connect with family and friends, and express ourselves online. But how much sharing is too much?

Oversharing your personal information online can open you up to potential security risks. To protect yourself, it’s important to know these surprising ways that people unintentionally overshare their personal information. Let's take a look at five of them.


Sharing Photos on Social Media

Photos are one of the most common ways people share online. While it’s nice to post photos of yourself for your friends and family to enjoy, be aware that those photos could also be seen by strangers.

If you post pictures of your home, car, or any other property you own, it may provide thieves with clues about what kind of items you have in your possession.

It’s also important to avoid tagging yourself in locations or giving away any details about upcoming trips or events that could leave your home and property vulnerable while you’re away.


Selling Your Car

If you have a late-model car and you sell it or trade it in for a newer model, you may be selling more than your old car: you could be giving some sensitive personal information away as a bonus. How? With your auto's electronic system.

Today's automobiles are computers with wheels. They can compute how fast you're driving, what direction you're heading, and even tell you how to get to your nearest Hanscom FCU branch using the easiest route possible. But these same computer systems store information, too: things like your address book, codes for your garage door, and where you work and live. Most automobiles have a factory reset option that'll erase this info; check your owner's manual for instructions.

Your car may be connected to satellite radio, mobile wi-fi hotspots, and other data services, too. Unless you cancel them or have them transferred to your new vehicle, the new owners of your old vehicle will have access to them. 

So before you sell your car, check your owner's manual or visit your dealership to find out how you can thoroughly remove all personal information from your vehicle's electronic system. 


Entering Personal Information on Websites

When filling out forms online or signing up for accounts on websites, be sure not to give away any more information than is absolutely necessary. This includes things like your address, phone number, and birthdate—all pieces of data that can easily be used by malicious actors to hijack your identity or access sensitive accounts like banking and credit card numbers.

When in doubt, always err on the side of caution when entering personal details online, especially on a website you're not familiar with. 


Reusing Passwords

Another way people can inadvertently give away their personal information is by reusing passwords across multiple accounts. When criminals get hold of usernames and passwords from one website they can use this same login information to gain access to other accounts associated with the same user name and password combination which puts all of those accounts at risk of being hacked into as well.

It’s best practice to generate unique passwords for each account you create so as not to put any sensitive data at risk for theft or misuse.


Posting Too Much on Social Media

Social media sites are often used as a platform for users to share content such as links to articles or opinions they may have on certain topics. However, if you post too much content without assessing how it could potentially reflect back upon you, it could come back and haunt you if someone decides to misuse this material against you, whether it be a simple unintentional share that goes viral, or Internet trolling or malicious defamation campaigns against your character, reputation, or family.

Before posting anything onto your social media platforms think about how this material could be revealed in unexpected ways. You don't want to find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with an employer or potential job opportunity, a family member, or the news media in the future.

We all want our lives online to reflect our true selves but we also need to consider how sharing our thoughts, feelings, and personal information with others can inadvertently harm us. Be mindful when posting any kind of content onto social media outlets not only to protect your reputation but to also safeguard yourself from potential harm from cyber criminals. Take necessary precautions when sharing anything online.

 

 

 

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Hanscom Federal Credit Union
Hanscom Federal Credit Union

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