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 How to Stay Safe on Social Networking Sites

Social networking has caused one of the most fundamental shifts in how we communicate since the invention of e-mail. Social networking sites are a popular way to keep in touch with friends and family by sharing pictures, video clips and other information. Many people are also turning to social networking sites for professional and career advancement purposes. 
But computer hackers also use social networking sites to install malicious software on network members’ computers, smartphones and other devices. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), certain links, when clicked on, can download spyware on your computer that can be used to access your online bank account.
To avoid problems, be careful about information you disclose on social networking sites, learn how to limit access to your personal information with your privacy settings and be careful when clicking on videos, pictures and links.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) offers these tips for staying safe on social networking websites:
                    Adjust website privacy settings. Some social networking sites have provided useful options to assist in adjusting these settings to help protect your identity.
                    Be selective of your friends. Once selected, your “friends” can access any information marked as “viewable by all friends.”
                    Use “limited profile access” setting if available. This setting is for those with whom you feel uncomfortable sharing personal information.
                    Turn off extra options. Consider how you want to use the social networking site. If it is only to keep in touch with people, it makes sense to turn off extra options that will not be used.
                    Be careful what you click on. Just because someone you know posts a link or video doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe. Infected users are often unknowingly spreading malware by having infected websites posted on their webpage without their knowledge. Friends are then more apt to click on these links since they appear to be endorsed by their contacts.
                    Familiarize yourself with the website’s policies and procedures. Each social networking site may have different procedures on how to handle a hijacked or infected account. Reference their help or FAQ page for instructions.
If you suspect your account has been hacked, you are encouraged to file a complaint with IC3 at

These tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA), representing banks and thrifts in the state.  The IBA serves it members by providing legislative advocacy, training, regulatory compliance and other services designed to enhance the ability of banks to serve their communities.  Learn more at


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