With vaccine programs rolling out with great success and restrictions beginning to loosen, the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US is truly in sight, and everyone is understandably elated. People have been flooding their social media feeds, sharing their experiences receiving the vaccine. Many people have posted selfies showing off the small mark left on their upper arm by the injection with great pride, and some have even shared the vaccination card they received. While great celebrations are absolutely called for, they should not come at the expense of the exposure of personal information.
What many of these people didn’t realize in the moment, is that by posting their vaccination cards online, they’ve inadvertently exposed themselves to identity theft. A vaccination card contains lots of personal information, including somebody’s full name, date of birth, and patient number— all immensely valuable information to a would-be identity thief.
Have you received the COVID-19 vaccine? Here are some things to consider before you post about it on social media:
- Don’t overshare
Be sure that you are not sharing information on social media that could potentially jeopardize your privacy. It is inadvisable to post an unobscured picture of your vaccination card online. With your card having your full name, date of birth, as well as information about where you received the vaccine, posting a snap of it could make you an easy target for identity theft.
We’re not saying to not post about receiving the vaccine at all — it’s definitely something to be excited about, but if you’re going to post photos of your vaccination card, ensure that you cover your personal information with stickers or emojis.
- Avoid helping the bad guys
Sharing your personal information isn’t the only issue, however. Posting photos of your vaccination card may help scammers produce and sell counterfeit cards. In the UK, scammers were caught selling fake vaccination cards on eBay and TikTok. The FBI reported that fake vaccine cards are on sale on social media and e-commerce platforms in the US and Canada. There are also concerns that posting medical information publicly could void your HIPAA protections.
- Don’t give out your location
The built-in location sharing feature of your mobile device has its positives and negatives. On one hand, it’s really useful if you need to find your way around an unfamiliar city, or if you misplace your device and need to track its location. On the other hand, it can provide hackers with much more information than most of us would be comfortable sharing.
Many people have been tagging their locations in their vaccine-related social media posts. However, with cybercriminals already having proven that they’re more than willing to take advantage of the commotion caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the inherent security risks of freely sharing your location, it’s unquestionably prudent to disable your mobile device’s location sharing feature unless you really need it.
- Check your social media privacy settings
It’s definitely not a good idea to expose the personal information on your vaccine card online, but it’s also essential to ensure that your social media privacy settings are configured appropriately. If you’re not sure about what information is publicly visible on your social media, you may be giving away more information than you would wish to.
Make sure the settings are configured to avoid sharing personal information with those you don’t know. Cybercriminals could sell your information on the dark web, or even use it to hack into your email and social media accounts. It’s best practice to configure your privacy settings so that only your friends and family can view the personal information on your social media accounts.
Better yet, why not leave your online privacy concerns in the hands of the professionals? Trend Micro Maximum Security and Trend Micro Mobile Security both have our Social Network Privacy feature that allows you to easily check how much information you’re sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, enabling you to be sure that your privacy settings are configured just the way you want them!
We’ve all been vigilant about staying safe throughout the pandemic, and now with the light at the end of the tunnel fast approaching, it’s important that we don’t drop our guards and potentially expose ourselves to cybercrime. Please remember, it’s equally important to stay safe both online and offline!