People who use internet networking sites could be putting themselves at risk of becoming victims of identity theft, a credit information group warned today.
Equifax said people who were members of sites such as MySpace, Bebo, Facebook and Friends Reunited may be putting too many personal details about themselves online.
It said these details could be used by fraudsters to steal someone’s identity and apply for credit and benefits in their name.
Neil Munroe, external affairs director for Equifax, said: “Fraudsters are taking advantage of the new craze for social networking.
“The problem is that people don’t realise the significance of the kind of information they are putting out on the web and who may be accessing it.
“More and more consumers are signing up to these sites every day and chances are they’ll put on their date of birth, location, email, job and marital status.
“Fraudsters can use this information to steal an individual’s identity and open accounts in their name.”
The group advised people to limit the personal information they make available about themselves online.
It said people should think twice before putting their full date of birth on one of the sites, as well as the names of children or pets as these are often used as passwords.
Mr Munroe said: “We don’t want to stop people using these sites, but we do advise them to limit the amount of information they make available to stop people stealing their identity.”
Identity theft is a growing problem in the UK. It is estimated that it costs the economy around £1.5 billion a year, and 80,000 people were victims of the crime last year.