Sensitive Information: What Not To Post on Social Media

Stop before you take that Facebook quiz.  As tempting as it may be to find out what your social security number reveals about your perfect love match, you could be putting yourself at risk of personal identity theft.  Scammers are hungry for information that will aid them in opening new credit lines in your name, stealing your identity, breaking into your home, or hacking into your private accounts.  Here’s what you should never share on social media

What Not To Post on Social Media

You may think you’re sharing your updates with friends and family, but it’s easy to forget that the whole world could be watching.  Just because you’ve set your account to private doesn’t prevent your followers from taking screenshots to share online.  Even two seemingly innocuous pieces of information can be combined by a scammer to compromise your security.  Your pet’s name?  That could be a hint to your password.  Your relationship status?  You could be signaling whether you’re ripe for a romance scam.  

Here’s what not to post on social media, including the status updates and personal biographical details that are better left unshared. 

Vacation plans   

Don’t share any information that tells potential thieves when you’ll be out of the country or away from your home, car or boat.  You could be giving fraudsters weeks to come up with a plan, and most of them only need a day or two.  One option is to wait until you’ve returned from vacation to release the official photo album. 

CVC number or bank card number 

This also applies if you’re trying to reunite the owner of a lost card in a local community group with their plastic, for example.  Always blur the numbers first.  Scammers could use your card details and the CVC to order items online and have them delivered to an address of their choosing (usually an abandoned mailbox).  Alternatively, they could sell them on the Dark Web, where there are numerous databases of compromised cards. 


Venues love it when you “check-in” on social media, but so do thieves.  They know you’ll be out long enough for them to get into your home.  Scammers or confidence tricksters could also use this knowledge to their advantage.  For example, they may claim to be an employee of a restaurant you’ve dined at, who simply needs to “confirm your credit card details” for a payment error. 

Specific location(s) 

Try to avoid adding locations to your social media posts.  Instagram, for example, will prompt you for a location but you can choose to ignore it.  If you post in a place that has public (unsecured) WiFi, anyone lurking in the vicinity who’s monitoring tagged accounts could potentially sneak malware onto your smartphone and steal your sensitive details.  Your tagged photos also build up a picture of your regular habits, whether it’s your local gym or where you get your morning coffee.  

Bank statements

In some “hustle-oriented” communities, it’s a matter of kudos to share how much you’ve just been paid online, but you could also be sharing vital information with identity thieves, which could result in bank account takeover fraud.  Worse still, you’re going to face an uphill struggle persuading your bank to refund your money if there’s any suggestion that you’ve shared information that is supposed to remain private. 

Vaccine cards  

Ironically, your public show of taking precautions could be the cue for scammers to rampage through your medical records.  It also has your name and date of birth on it, which are irresistible to fraudsters.   There have also been cases of scammers using genuine vaccine cards to forge fake certificates that they sell online to people who need them for travel.  In other cases, their goal is simply to use the vaccine card as bait to obtain the credit card details of the buyer. 

Certain photos 

Avoid posting any pic that displays any valuable possessions.  Luxury watch thieves in London struck 67 times in just one month in 2022.  By their own admission, many robbers track their targets on Instagram and pounce when the victim returns home from a night out or shopping trip (another reason not to check in).  Pedigree pets are another photo opportunity worth turning down.  With some breeds worth thousands, cases of puppies or mature dogs being snatched from parks or backyards are now all too common.   

Be Careful About What You Share

Be miserly about what you share online, and share it only with a network you trust.  It’s a good idea to actively audit your social media accounts at regular intervals too.  That means cleaning out the bots from your followers, removing third-party permissions you longer need, changing your password and setting up two-factor authentication (2FA) if you haven’t already done so. 


Identity Force – What Is PII?
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – Attempts to Gain Your Personal Information: Identity Theft

Security Magazine – Over 22 Billion Records Exposed in 2022

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