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Banks should advise customers on the do’s and don’ts of social networking

Banks miss a trick in not advising customers how to network socially with safety, so here’s my top do’s and don’ts for social networking. It’s not exhaustive, but just those that are top of mind and banks would do well to send such advice to their customers in writing, online and always when they logon to their bank accounts (in an engaging user experience way – not just by cut and pasting the words below).


  • clear any sensitive information from all of the electronic devices that you use, especially your mobile
  • use all the tools you can to be safe online such as free antivirus software like AVGfree, and plugins to browsers such as NoScript
  • share your life and lifestream, but restrict this to only those who deserve to know you and who you really know
  • keep everything private and think that anything you’re posting to a website could be seen by your parents, partner or boss
  • watch what your children are doing online and that they are not giving away information about themselves or the family that could be sensitive or dangerous – examples would include “going on holiday for two weeks” and connecting with adults they don’t know
  • consider that everyone online is the equivalent of everyone you meet offline, as would you really trust “Bitcha Armoff”, the gorgeous and mysterious person who just poked you, in real life?
  • think about opening two accounts on all social sites: one where you link to work colleagues and another where you link with friends and family – that way you can manage the work/life balance and keep personal separate to professional
  • make sure that your privacy settings in both sites are set correctly and remember that by joining groups no matter how innocuous can result in many strangers seeing your profile, status updates and lifestream


  • use passwords and usernames similar to your bank logon details anywhere other than with the bank
  • store your password and username on devices such as your mobile, netbook or laptop, or keep such information anywhere near them
  • click on any links from people you don’t know or to something that sounds exciting but could be fishy, such as a Facebook link to see “Justin Bieber Gets Boner” can often link to a download of malware
  • accept an invitation to link with just anyone – it may make you feel more popular, but any of those so-called ‘friends’ may be gangsters and murderers
  • use location co-ordinates in your status updates as that’s asking someone to rob your house when you’re out
  • mix work and play on your profile or social network
  • put your birthday, telephone number, email address and particularly your work situation on any social networking site, as that’s a real giveaway
  • link with mum and dad or most family members in any network with potential non-family or work members, as parents particularly post crap on your updates and might give away your mother’s maiden name or similar information
  • talk about what you’re doing in the future except with those you trust, as this gives a perfect opportunity to ‘groom’ you for crime, e.g. “going to be at the Dog & Duck for Joe’s stag do is a real invitation”

Why do I say the above?

Because the number of times I’ve targeted people to coerce them into doing something they don’t want to do by knowing where to find them and when; who their friends, family and work colleagues are; what their tastes in music, books, films and sushi are; and more … oh, did I just say that?

On a more serious note, Facebook is being blamed for one in five divorces in the USA, and employers and potential employers are using these sites to see how fit for work you are. If your partners and employers are checking up on you, do your really believe that criminals aren’t?

I would urge every bank to post some sort of advice on their website, mobile and internet service, as it seriously worries me that customers aren’t getting this education and are probably giving away their identities as we speak.

I would also, as a bank, underscore that if a customer is found NOT to have followed these policies and procedures then they may not be covered for fraudulent account access and identity theft.

That way, the bank has protected itself, helped the customer and moved our new Bank 2.0 world a step forward.

Whilst banks ignore such perils, their customers are at risk.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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