Education Center

Reduce the risk of identity theft

Spring Cleaning for Your Social Media

Spring cleaning is a ritual that roughly 70% of households participate in each year. The annual practice often includes decluttering, disinfecting, dusting and organizing. But social media, which isn’t a traditional part of the ritual, could use regular cleaning, too.

The information on your social media doesn’t gather dust, but when shared publicly it can be used by criminals to dig up serious dirt. Information like your full name or where you work, when available to the public, can be used to guess passwords, send personalized ads and messages, or make various attempts at identity theft.

Four Ways to Clean Up Your Social Media

There’s plenty of public information for criminals to find on social media. From political causes you support to comments posted on public pages, cybercriminals can easily use social media to research and profile you as a target. Spruce up your social media accounts by doing the following:

  1. Update privacy settings

    Each social media site gives you the option to block certain audiences from viewing your information.

    Privacy settings are vastly different from one site to the next, so it may take a bit of research to decide which settings work for you. For every social media platform you use, it’s important to understand how personal information can be accessed so you can take steps to limit your audience.

    Accounts you no longer use should be updated too, including outdated platforms or old apps. It’s important to review and change the privacy settings before deleting an account, since deleting it doesn’t necessarily erase the data that’s been stored.

  2. Delete sensitive information

    Basic personal information may seem harmless, but it can be misused in a number of ways if it falls into the wrong hands. This information can be used to guess passwords and security questions, leaving social media users vulnerable:

    • Family members’ names or information that can lead to your mother’s maiden name
    • Your birthdate
    • Favorite books or movies
    • Names of your pets
    • “About me” sections or information added to personal profiles
    • Home address, neighborhood or other indications of where you live

    Don’t help criminals determine your current or future location. Posting good news or milestones may feel like second nature, but as a general rule, delete any information about when you’ll be away from home or where you’re going on vacation.

    Ask your family and friends to postpone sharing family vacation photos until after you’ve returned home. You can also disable geotracking on social media accounts that you or your children use.

    For additional help protecting your family’s online accounts, consider an advanced identity protection service like Complete ID™. Costco members who sign up for Complete ID can add Child Monitoring to their plan for as little as $2.99 a month or upgrade to a Family Plan that covers up to two adults and five children*. See all plan information and pricing at completeID.com.

  3. Limit Third-Party Access

    A number of apps, personal accounts and devices allow you to sign in using Facebook or Google login credentials. While this allows you to avoid creating and remembering a unique password for each account, it can inadvertently give third parties access to your information.

    Some apps and services might also request access to calendars, cameras or even contact lists to provide you with a service. To improve your security, log into your social media accounts and look for information about managing this third-party access.

    Remove access to any services you no longer use or don’t recognize. You can vastly improve your security by choosing a strong password for each account rather than signing in via a third party.

  4. Set up two-factor authentication

    Two-factor authentication makes it much harder for a hacker to access your accounts. Instead of just using a password, anyone who wants to sign in will also need a second “factor” to gain access. That could include a unique code that’s sent to your cellphone or emailed to you.

    Two-factor authentication isn’t always a default setting so you may need to log in to each of your accounts and manually choose this setting.

    For more cybersecurity best practices and tips on securing your identity, visit the Complete ID Education Center.

*Child Protection cost is in addition to the monthly price and subject to the same terms & conditions ($2.99 per month for Executive Members or $3.99 per month for Gold Star and Business Members plus applicable sales tax for up to 5 children). Children must be under 18 years old to receive Child Protection. Parent/Legal Guardian will need to pass a one-time guardianship verification process to receive alert content for children.

**Two adults plus children plan is $18.99 for Executive Members or $29.99 for Gold Star and Business Members, per month plus applicable sales tax. Other plan options available. Both adults must be active Costco members and at the same Costco membership level. Child monitoring includes up to 5 children under the age of 18. One-time Parent/Legal Guardian verification is required to receive alert details for children. Service provided by Experian®.

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  • *$8.99 per person per month for Executive Members or $13.99 per person per month for Gold Star and Business Members, plus sales tax where applicable. Service provided by Experian®.