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Posted: December 21, 2013

Take the ‘kick me’ sign off your back

LaurieJalbertBy Laurie Jalbert

Hello everyone! My name is Laurie Jalbert and I am new to the Writers’ Village here at e-KNOW.  I have recently retired from the RCMP after a lengthy career and decided to stay here in the nicest part of the province I have ever lived in. Of course it helps that I married Cliff out at Cliff’s Meats so I have retired to my new job as the ‘Butcher’s Wife.’

The Kootenays are a remarkable place and I feel absolutely privileged to be able to make a living here. I plan on writing about issues in the Kootenays in addition to some advice from a long career in policing.

One of my favourite topics and a growing area of concern is the fraud being committed online in the cyber-world. The opportunities that exist there are just so numerous and the unsettling thing that I see is that so many people leave themselves wide open to being victimized when it doesn’t have to happen.

I will share two recent stories with you that I ran across in the last couple of months.

ColLJFbkI bought a used car in Calgary, found it on Kijiji (my favourite classifieds) but of course I am buying it from someone I know nothing about. I decide to do a little research and check to see if she is on Facebook. There she is with a wide open Facebook page. I know she is in tradeschool to become a welder, I know the school she goes to, I know she is gay, I know her partner’s name, I know where she lives, I know lots about her friends because I can read their posts as well.

I end up buying the car and this person then gives me her file on the car since the day it was born and then, when I am home, I go through it and find her traffic tickets, all of her receipts and a special receipt with her credit card number, expiry date AND cvc code written on the side of it. Good ‘til 2014.  Wow…. so tempting… Merry Christmas to me!

My most recent encounter with an open Facebook page occurred when an elk that a hunter brought in to my husband was ready for pick up. We phoned the owner and the phone was no longer in service. So, again, I Facebook him and find a wealth of information on his open Facebook page including his wife’s name, so I Facebook her and find another open Facebook page. I know what their kids look like, where they go to school, what projects they are involved in, their grandma and grandpa’s names, their uncle, their mom and dad’s friends, how they entertain and I can e-thumb through their family photos. I know her date of birth and her maiden name.

I can steal her identity and if I were a pedophile, would have a good shot at stealing her kids.  In addition to finding contact information I now know where their grandparents live and in fact contacted them through grandpa. I know grandpa’s address and if I spend some time stalking this family I will know when they or their parents or their friends are on holidays when they post to their ‘friend’ about how excited they are about their upcoming Mexico trip in January and then I know the house is empty and I know I can break in to it and no one is home.

The point is I KNOW… and I am a total stranger. Most of your pictures are geo-tagged and with some crazy cheap software, I can decode them and know exactly when and where they were taken.  Nice ATV, sure would like one of them.

I am no computer wiz, not by any means and even with my meagre knowledge, I could make the lives of these people difficult. The information I got from them was from accessing their page one single time. If I spent some time watching them, stalking them on the computer, I could unravel their lives in any number of ways of my own choosing.

This can be prevented at the touch of a button. There are privacy settings on your Facebook account. By not setting them you put your family and friends at risk. If you are a ‘friend’ of someone on Facebook who has an open page, you need to rescind your friendship status until they privatize their page. They are putting you at risk and they are putting your family at risk. At the very least think about every post you make on their wall because whatever you post is open to anyone to see so don’t talk about your upcoming trip, don’t talk about your new Quad, don’t talk about your expensive new purebred puppy or provide any information that could put your own family at risk.

Better yet, don’t worry about all of that information; just make it so no one else can see it unless you decide it is okay to see it.

Does it sound like fear mongering? Would you walk through a high crime area with money sticking out of your pockets at two in the morning? Of course not; you would be asking for trouble.

When your Facebook page is wide open, you are asking for the same thing. There are people out there who prey on the knowledge that you are handing to them on a platter. You are rolling the dice with an open page, hoping that no one will focus in on your life and turn it into hell. So take the ‘kick me’ sign off your back, privatize your page, think about the information you are providing and don’t let anyone cyber-stalk you.

At least… that’s the way I see it.

LJCliffsMeatsLaurie Jalbert arrived to the Kootenays in 2006 as a member of the RCMP and now makes it her permanent home. Retired from the force, she is co-owner of Cliff’s Meats in Cranbrook ( Se can be reached at: [email protected].

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