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LinkedIn: Accessible but safe

One thing that always surprises me about LinkedIn personal profiles that I see is how much some people put in that they shouldn’t, and how much they leave out that they should put in.

We get rightfully upset when companies fail to protect our privacy, but sometimes we don’t help ourselves. The latest report from Javelin Strategy & Research says about 36 million people were notified of a data breach in 2011. Having your information lost or stolen during a breach doesn’t automatically mean you will be a victim of identity theft, but it certainly does increase the odds.

People who suffer data breaches are 9 1/2 times more likely to be a victim of identity fraud than other people. Identity fraud increased 13 percent last year alone and affected more than 11 1/2 million adults. Using stolen details such as credit card numbers and other financial information, identity thieves buy cars, get mobile phones and open new credit card accounts.

When you are connected to someone at level one (i.e. you have accepted an invitation from them or invited them to join you) they can see your personal information, your full profile and your personal details.

Picking on one detail that people include that they might want to reconsider is their full date of birth on their profile – personally I’m never sure why people do this! It gives away a core part of your personal information and can lead the way to identity theft – rather silly. Also think carefully about using your home address especially if you don’t personally know your connections, accepting all invitations can be very dangerous, more so if all your personal information is there.

One detail that people often leave out but shouldn’t is a telephone number – surely you don’t only want a relationship on email? You might want to check out this old blog post and then add your telephone number to your profile, but do ensure you put it in the right box so LinkedIn only shows it to your connections.