Keeping Your Family Safe Online

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This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of LifeLock and Circle of Moms. All opinions are my own.

When I started blogging four years ago, my future son wasn’t even something I considered. I read these blogs by women who shared photos of their lives and felt connected to them — and I knew that I wanted to do the same thing.

So when Andrew was born, I shared his birth story. I’ve shared family trips and birthdays and feelings with all of you. And it never occurred to me that those stories could be used to hurt my family.

In today’s world, sharing online is something we all do. You check in on Facebook when you go out to dinner. Post a photo to Instagram when you find something fun at the store. Upload a Vine video when your kid does something cute.

But those actions could allow others to track your habits, locations you frequent, and other information to harm you or those you love.

Pam, a book blogger and publishing agent who I’ve followed since I first started blogging, learned this the hard way when she was attacked by an irate author whose pitch she had declined. Her attacker had used Foursquare to determine the route she took to pick her daughter up from school, and attacked her on the road.

And while I don’t think we should completely exile ourselves and our children from the Internet, I do think there are ways to be smarter about what we share online. Here are some easy things you can do to keep your family safe online:

1. Only “check-in” places where lots of other people have been.

Make sure that when you “check-in” to a place on Facebook, Instagram or Foursquare that you aren’t the only one there. Also make sure that many other people have used that “check-in.” For a while, I’d tag photos on Instagram at my house. I’ve stopped doing that.

 2. Be careful who you allow to see your status.

I only accept friend requests on Facebook from people I know in real life. I also readily use the block function on Twitter and Instagram if a follower doesn’t feel right. The most important thing is to go with your gut.

3. Check the default settings on your social media accounts.

Facebook updates are constantly changing things — make a point to regularly go into your settings and ensure you’re only sharing the information you want to publicly.

4. Register a P.O. Box as your address online.

When we first moved into our house, I didn’t think twice about using our home address to register my websites, buy things online, etc. Now, I’ve rented a P.O. Box and use it for all of my online info.

5. Consider signing up for LifeLock to monitor your information against identity thieves.

LifeLock is a suite of services (including credit monitoring) that work together to protect your identity from various risks including credit fraud. They relentlessly protect your credit and personal information from identity theft and fraud.

Have you taken any steps to protect your family’s identity online?

FTC DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENT: The Nerd’s Wife aims to provide unbiased editorials. However, I wish to disclose that from time to time I may receive free products or other compensation from companies for blogger reviews.

Comments

  1. These are great tips! When I’m on vacation, I don’t post anything about being on vacation until I come back from vacation. That is a good tip too in order to keep yourself safe and deter people from breaking into your home while you are away.

  2. Wow! So eye opening, I will definitely move certain things from public to private…so hard when you’re trying to reach people but also keep personal info private. Thanks for this post Arena!

  3. These are such great tips!! I just wish there were no crazy people so we wouldn’t need these tips. :) In a perfect world….

  4. I’m already debating at what age I will start sharing far less pictures of little Miss. I’ve also chosen to no longer use her real name in any of my posts (though I need to go back to some old ones). I know a blogger that switched to private after she started having people walk up to her at the mall and say her childrens names.

  5. Great tips! I do many of these things as well. I also make sure to turn off geo-tagging on pictures I upload and never mention my kids’ names or where they attend school. So many crazies out there!

  6. Great safety tips!
    I am always amazed at the amount of information available about a person with a quick internet search. The more we can do to limit the information that’s out there, the better.
    I only share pictures of my stepkids on my personal Facebook account, with the security controls set so only those in my “close friends” list can see them. I don’t add anyone to my personal Facebook that I don’t know in person. When I check in on Facebook or mention where I am on Twitter, it’s with at least one other person and a place that many people frequent (never my house, or the kids’ school or friends and family’s homes). The cars we both drive are pretty common but before I post photos with the cars in them (like if the kids are riding bikes in the driveway), I edit the photo to blur out plate numbers and any other identifying details (like a bumper sticker for a college). I also don’t check in at places I go to on a fairly predictable basis (like for coffee or a grocery store). This makes it way less likely that anyone could nail down a regular schedule for me. On my blog, I do not use the kids’ names and their father has a “code name” as well (as does almost everyone I mention on my blog). I do not mention where he works, or anything about the school the kids attend. There are no photos of the kids or their father on my blog (this may change, but that’s not likely any time soon), and no mention of specific events at the schools or their activities like which teams or leagues they play for.
    You can visit the website for our school district (like most others) and you will see what events are happening at each school. If I said that my stepdaughter would be at a specific event at her school next week, it wouldn’t be hard to find out which one that is. I’m pretty sure at least one post mentions the name of the town where we live (or that I’ve given enough details that someone could use to put it all together if they had some free time), but I’ve limited other specifics to minimize someone finding the exact location of our house/ neighborhood.

    Some people tell me I’m crazy to protect this much info, but I really don’t think you can ever be too careful. It would be great if we didn’t have to worry about all of this, but the reality is that more information about all of us is available far more readily than ever before.

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