The devil is in your details

Facebook headquartersPaul Sakuma/AP/Press Association Images

We're more worried about our profile and appearance on social media than we are about the details we are potentially sharing with fraudsters.

The problem, according to a government report, is that we just don't see ourselves as a potential target. But we're way off the mark.

Blind to risks

The research, by the National Fraud Authority, found that we're keen to limit who can see what on our profile to protect our reputation. However, we don't spare a thought for what is on offer to those who would use our personal information for nefarious reasons.

While 82% are very careful about who can see their profile, they are not concerned about fraud. Some 73% occasionally or never think about fraud, and 59% aren't worried about becoming a victim.

The risks

The government is launching a campaign alongside a number of telecoms groups, called 'The Devil's in Your Details' to raise awareness of the risks. It points out that over £38 billion is lost within the UK to fraud, with £0.54 billion lost to online ticketing scams and bogus career opportunity offers.

Jack Wraith, CEO, Telecommunications United Kingdom Fraud Forum, supporting the initiative, says: "The increasing use of smart phones and other modern communications devices not only make life easier for the consumer but also, if not correctly configured, can open them to risks from hackers and fraudsters."

Adrian Gorham, Head of Fraud & Security for O2, which is also supporting the campaign, says: "As smartphone usage grows, more people are using their phones to surf the web and stay in touch with friends using their social media accounts. Along with the huge benefits created by mobile phone technology are the risks of fraudulent use of personal information."

Peter Wilson, Director, National Fraud Authority points out: "The time and effort needed to sort fraud out can be overwhelming. Aside from the hassle, fraud can even affect your credit rating, which could make taking out a loan or even a phone contract a complicated affair." "Your social image could be under threat if a fraudster invades your network. The effects of which can be devastating."

To highlight the risk it as created a Facebook app. Visit and link to Facebook and it will prepare an undercover report featuring you and your Facebook friends as victims of fraud, which you can share with your cast. The idea is to show you how an approach might work.

So how can you protect yourself?

Wilson says that if we could only be as vigilant about protecting personal details from fraudsters, our risk of being a victim would be significantly reduced.

The campaign says we should suspect anyone or anything we are uncertain about, and anyone approaching us out of the blue with an opportunity. The experts say it's essential that you keep asking questions and to challenge the person calling you until you are satisfied with their response, and have conclusive proof they are legitimate. If you still feel uncomfortable, they say it's vital to end your contact with the individual.
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