How to Protect Yourself From Farcing

By Nicholas Pell

Fighting identity thieves will always be an uphill battle because the good guys always seem to be one step behind the criminals. The latest development in the world of identity theft: Farcing. You’ve probably never heard of farcing before, which is why it’s such an effective means of getting at your personal information. Here’s how to protect yourself:

What Is Farcing?
Have you ever logged onto Facebook and seen friend requests from people you don’t know? They have one picture -- which might look like a stock photograph -- and no mutual friends. It might be a good-looking member of the opposite sex or just someone with a lot of shared interests. This may be a farcer: Someone who is attempting to gain access to your social media accounts for the purpose of obtaining sensitive information that can then be used to steal your identity.

Once the criminal has access to your social network profile, he starts gathering information: Your date of birth, your pet’s name, your oldest child’s name and other information that is often used to verify your identity. Some farcers even go as far as to message you directly to ask for more personal information than they already have.

Protecting Yourself Against Farcing
Farcing might be a new development in the world of identity theft, but it is pretty easy to protect yourself:

  • Keep your privacy settings tight. Don’t let people you don’t know see what you’re posting.

  • Don’t friend people you don’t know in real life, even if you do have a mutual friend or two.

  • Go through your current list of friends. If you see anyone you don’t know personally, delete them.

Farcing can have serious consequences, but getting duped requires you letting your guard down. Protect your private information and be careful how much you share about your personal life online. As long as you do that, farcers will look elsewhere.

Nicholas Pell  is a freelance writer based in Hollywood, CA. He writes about music, personal finance and technology for publications such as LA Weekly, Salon and Business Insider. He’s been online since the days of Usenet groups and bulletin board systems.


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