Americans Exposing Answers to Common Security Questions and Identities on Social Networks

ID Analytics’ Survey Finds More than 24 Million U.S. Adults Leave Their Profiles Public and Millions More Reveal Sensitive Information to Potential Fraudsters

SAN DIEGO, CA –As millions of Americans flock to theaters to see “The Social Network,” millions more are exposing their identities and potentially critical financial information on popular social networking sites. According to the 2010 Social Network Fraud Survey of 1,013 U.S. adults, conducted via telephone by Harris Interactive® on behalf of ID Analytics, Inc. this month, more than 24 million Americans age 18 or older leave their social network profiles mostly public.

Millions more expose key pieces of identity information including date of birth, birthplace, and even current and previous addresses. Nearly 70 million U.S. adults on social networking sites share their birthplace on their profiles. Birthplace is one of the most common “security questions” asked by financial institutions to verify someone’s identity.

“People do not realize how they are exposing their identities and potentially sensitive financial information to fraudsters on social networking sites such as Facebook,” said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer for ID Analytics, Inc. “Americans are also unknowingly sharing with fraudsters answers to common security questions posed by financial institutions to verify an identity including a pet’s name, their favorite book and music, or the color of their car. Consumers should realize that social networking sites provide fraudsters with a plethora of information that is ripe for the taking and take steps to protect themselves.”

Other highlights of the 2010 Social Network Fraud Survey include:

  • Pets, a fraudster’s best friend? —Nearly 20 million Americans reveal their pets’ names on their social networks, another common security question asked to verify identities
  • Young continue to be more bold and revealing — Directionally*, 18 – 34 year-olds are most likely to reveal various personal information on social networking sites.
  • The gender gap — Overall men and women on social networking sites tend to share similar information about themselves. However, men are much more likely to share their current address than women. Men are also almost twice as likely to share photos of their car, while women are almost twice as likely to share pet names.

Consumers can check their risk of identity fraud at This free online service gives consumers immediate insight into whether their personal identifiable information is being used fraudulently to obtain assets, goods or services.

This survey was conducted by telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of ID Analytics between October 15 and 18, 2010 among 1,013 U.S. adults, of whom 392 have joined social networking sites. Results were weighted for age, sex, geographic region, and race where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.

*Caution should be used in analyzing these results due to small base sizes.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit

About ID Analytics, Inc.

ID Analytics is transforming consumer risk management with patented analytics, proven expertise, and real-time insight into consumer behavior. By combining proprietary data from the ID Network®—one of the nation’s largest networks of cross-industry behavioral data—with advanced science, ID Analytics provides unprecedented visibility into identity risk and creditworthiness. Every day, the largest U.S. companies and critical government agencies rely on ID Analytics to make risk-based decisions that enhance revenue, reduce fraud, drive cost savings, and protect consumers. Please visit us on the web at

ID Analytics is a registered trademark of ID Analytics, Inc. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders.