Facebook is gold for identity thieves

Social networking sites such as Facebook are "gold" for identity thieves, an international forum has been told.

International experts on identity crime are in the Gold Coast for a symposium to discuss the latest innovations in combating the growing global problem of identity theft.

Identity theft costs Australia around $3 billion a year.

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay, from Queensland's Fraud and Corporate Crime Group, says fraud is the most under-reported crime type, largely because victims often feel so embarrassed.

Supt Hay said one of the richest fields for global identity harvesters are social networking sites like Facebook.

"Anyone who joins a social networking site can have a look at random almost, and pick up people's dates of birth, where they work and family details," he said.

"That's gold to people who want to steal identities."

He said computer hackers were writing programs to reap identity information on social networking sites.

"We know the crooks are harvesting identity data and building empires of massive identity warehousing stocks," he said.

"We know they're writing data-mining programs to extract information from various sources, pull it together and build profiles on people.

"Today it may be Facebook but what's tomorrow?

"We've got Twitter, it's live by the second. It's an issue we need to address."

The conference, which will hear from experts from Romania, the Netherlands and the United States, ends on Wednesday.

Source: AAP

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