Four million Facebook users in the UK could be in danger of identity theft this Christmas because they show their full name and email address on their profile.
Credit reporting service Noddle has found that one in six Facebook users in the UK displays both their full name and address on a profile on the social media site, and the firm says this information could be enough for cyber criminals to carry out identity theft.
It means around four million people in the UK could be at risk.
The news comes at a time of the year when millions are activating new devices they received for Christmas, and are going online to post images of their presents - something Noddle says could leave them and their data vulnerable.
John Cannon, the firm’s fraud and ID director, said: “Social media has become as much a part of Christmas as tinsel, turkey and all the trimmings.
“Yet, by sharing important data like your full name, email address or date of birth - alongside your pictures of presents, decorations or the tree - you can inadvertently be putting yourself at risk.
“If a fraudster has picked up compromised data, from something like a data breach, then a quick scan of your public social media profile can be all they need to confirm who you are to commit fraud, or to launch a convincing phishing attack.
“Criminals can do this in the time it takes you to eat the first course of your Christmas dinner.”
Mr Cannon added that potential fraudsters could use information posted on a profile to try and defraud account holders.
“Most of us are on guard against an email or phone call out of the blue asking us for bank account and sort code information,” he said.
“However, fraudsters can use what you have posted or liked online to catch you out. For example, they can pose as a charity you have ‘liked’ and ask you to set up a direct debit to get your bank details.”
In order to reduce the risk of cyber fraud, Noddle has called on users to check and reinforce their privacy settings on social media, as well as reconsider the amount of personal information they have on a public profile.
According to data from Sky Broadband, Christmas Day is a peak time for internet traffic as users power up new devices for the first time, while data from Facebook shows users are three times more likely to post photos and video to social media in December than any other time of year.