Brits urged not to gift fraudsters their details this Christmas

Brits urged not to gift fraudsters their details this Christmas Noddle, the free-for-life credit reporting service, today (21st December) releases research that shows 4.4 million people could be giving fraudsters an extra Christmas present this year, simply by sharing their seasonal updates with their online friends and followers.

The research conducted by Noddle found that one in six Facebook users in the UK display both their full name and their email address on their profile. This equates to more than four million people sharing this important data in a single place – giving online fraudsters an extra special gift this Christmas. A further third (32%) of social media users questioned by Noddle include their date of birth on their profile. Criminals trawling social media sites can use this simple combination of information to gather the details they need to defraud people who are innocently sharing their Christmas snaps with their friends. 

The warning from Noddle comes at a time where social media usage is soaring. With Christmas looming Brits are already sharing three times more photos and videos on social platforms than usual. Based on 2014 figures, internet traffic is also set to peak on Christmas Day itself between 8am and noon as people open presents, many of which are new tablets or smartphones.

Commenting on the findings, John Cannon, Fraud & ID Director, Noddle commented: “Social media has become as much a part of Christmas as tinsel, turkey and all the trimmings. Yet, by sharing important data like your full name, email address or date of birth – alongside your pictures of presents, decorations or the tree – you can inadvertently be putting yourself at risk. If a fraudster has picked up compromised data, from something like a data breech, then a quick scan of your public social media profile can be all they need to confirm who you are to commit fraud, or to launch a convincing phishing attack. Criminals can do this in the time it takes you to eat the first course of your Christmas dinner.”

The Noddle research found that more than one in six (61%) included the town or city where they live in their profiles, whilst 15% of men and 23% of women included their partner or spouse’s name.

Describing how fraudsters use the information, John Cannon, Fraud & ID Director, Noddle commented: “Most of us are on guard against an email or phone call out of the blue asking us for bank account and sort code information. However, fraudsters can use what you have posted or liked online to catch you out.  For example, they can pose as a charity you have ‘liked’ and ask you to set up a direct debit to get your bank details. We know that consumers can be alarmed when they know how criminals can use social media for fraudulent activity that’s why at Noddle we have made it easy for you to access your personal credit information, making it simple to understand and easy to spot if something looks amiss.

To help consumers with their online security this Christmas, Noddle has put together five festive top tips:

  1. Cull your connections. Look at your profiles and see who you really know, and which are acquaintances. Many people allow virtual strangers access to clues about their lives, which they could use themselves, or pass on to other sources. Luckily, with social media, a digital ‘companion’ doesn’t have to be for life and you don’t have to have them for Christmas. 
  2. Be wary of friend requests. Don’t always accept friend requests as you could end up with more festive foes than intended. Keep an eye out for profiles with little or no activity, a small amount of information, hardly any photos or a handful of friends. You should also look for mutual connections.
  3. Tighten up. Double check you have strict privacy settings and look again at which personal details you are sharing. Now is the time to have a Christmas clear out so you can start the new year afresh.
  4. Use your Noddle. You can sign up to Noddle free, for life. By accessing your credit report you can keep an eye on any unexpected activity, which you may otherwise be unaware of.
  5. Be careful what you click for this Christmas. Always check the origin of a message or email, never click on links or open attachments unless you are certain it is genuine.