Report: One in five young people hacked on social media

Scammers prey on people who "overshare"

Wishing friends a happy birthday on Facebook and Twitter could get your account hacked and your private information stolen, according to a new report.

A survey of more than 1,000 16- to 25-year-olds from Nationwide Building Society found that some 20% of respondents claimed to have had their social media accounts hacked and more than one in 10 (11%) said they or a friend had lost money as a result.

The Nationwide survey also found that 83% of participants know someone who "overshares" online, which can pave the way for scammers to access your sensitive, personal data.

Examples of users giving out too much information include sharing current location, holiday updates, birthday, photos that identify where they work, photos of where they study, photos of their front door and even their bank account details. 

"Wishing someone a happy birthday or sharing your location may seem innocent enough, but fraudsters can piece together information from various places, collecting enough to defraud people," said Stuart Skinner, director of fraud at Nationwide Building Society.

Skinner recommends taking a number of actions to protect yourself online:

  • Check privacy settings so only vetted friends can see updates.
  • Don't give away too much information or anything you wouldn't want a scammer to see.
  • Have a strong password that doesn't use any of your personal information.
  • Avoid clicking suspicious links, even when sent from a trusted friend.
  • Don't share your bank details over private messages.
  • Reject requests from people you don't know.
  • Consider deleting friends you've only met once or twice.
  • Don't tag yourself when you are at home or at work.
  • Don't reveal when you are on holiday as this can alert people to your house being empty.