Although you’ve been warned against geo-tagging your photos, people still post pictures online that include geo-tagging codes that tell anyone who cares to know where and when the picture was taken.
The issues here are numerous. Maybe your mom takes your kids to the local playground. She snaps a few adorable pictures to share on Facebook, and let’s assume for the sake of reality that she hasn’t run a criminal background check on each of her Facebook friends. She has just handed a child-predator (potentially lurking among the countless friends and family to whom she is connected) some important information: where your kids play, likely times to find them at the playground, what they look like, their names and (depending upon how much birthday information she shares) their ages. Clearly this wasn’t her intention when she posted the pictures, but the risk is no less profound.
Another risk with pictures that your mom might post is, of course, that a potential burglar will be able to figure out where you live and when you won’t be there. If your mom likes to brag, that same thief may get an idea of what’s worth stealing in your house. All they need to do after that is wait for the post that lets them know when you aren’t home: "My kids are so blessed (names tagged in the post), they are going to Jamaica next Saturday! Have fun!" The bad guys get into your castle, and there goes the neighborhood.
Photographs are not the only issue. Many people use their mother's maiden name as part of their security protocol. Mom may post where you went to college or where you work. Your address might just show up in the pictures she posts, which may include photos of identification documents like passports or Social Security cards belonging to you or your kids. Your antique Social Security card displays your Social Security number. Game on!
Social media has been a game changer in mother-child relations. We are way past the days when the biggest complaint was, "Mom, you threw out my baseball cards." Today, if she posts too much, you may well end up saying, "Mom, you got me robbed!"
If you're worried your identity may have been compromised by an unintentional overshare, you can monitor two of your credit scores every month for free on Credit.com.
Adam Levin is chairman and co-founder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.