Social Networks Leave Americans Open To ID Theft

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Nearly 13 million Americans who are on social networking sites will accept any request from a member of the opposite sex, even if they don't know that person, according to a new survey released by ID Analytics and conducted by Harris Interactive.

Men on social networking sites are more than twice as likely as women to accept any and all invites from someone of the opposite sex (18 percent compared to seven percent for women).

While Americans are willing to accept online requests on social networks, only half (50%) who are on social sites actually trust those connections to keep their data private. Despite this lack of trust, the survey also found that more than 24 million Americans on social networking sites keep their online profiles "mostly public.”

The key identity elements that consumers should be careful before exposing on social networks are:


"American's lack of caution in friending members of the opposite sex online is striking," said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer for ID Analytics, Inc.

"Friending someone online is not risk-free. Just as in the bricks-and-mortar world, it makes sense to exercise a bit of prudence. Most social networking profiles contain personal information that can be used by fraudsters, and when you friend someone, you are giving them access to this information."

Other findings include:

*Men between the ages of 18 to 34 on social networks were the most likely to accept invites from anyone of the opposite sex compared to older men.

*Five percent of U.S. adults on social networks will accept any friend request they receive – regardless of who sends them.

*Americans who have joined an online social network were twice as likely to state that it is important to have as many business social media contacts as possible (39 percent), compared to personal connections on social networks (19 percent).