By Morgan Thomas - email
CORRIGAN, TX (KTRE) - The Polk County Sheriff's Office has arrested a Corrigan EMS worker and charged him with stalking a 16-year-old girl.
According to the press release, Allen Lane Marcotte Jr., 39, of Coldspring, used the girl's Facebook page to obtain her phone number. He then sent obscene texts to the girl and tried to get her to meet him somewhere to have sex with her.
Lufkin P.D.'s cyber crimes expert, J. B. Smith, says our familiarity and comfort with social networking has increased the amount of personal information we post.
"It's not uncommon these days for people post their phone numbers or addresses - truly personal information on their web pages," said Smith.
That lack of discretion is what's putting people at risk. Smith says everything you post online is fair game for predators.
"You may believe that you're only friending people that you know, but there are plenty of people that are linking to your site through your friend's sites," said Smith.
Experts say the biggest part of keeping your information private is taking control of the privacy settings on all your social networking profiles, and staying on top of it.
Charlie Free with DP Solutions says much of his job involves their client's online security.
"A lot of times your privacy settings are not set properly. Friends of friends can see that or by default, everybody can see that," said Free.
Most social networking sites allow you to customize their profile security. On Facebook, you can allow only certain friends to view your pictures, but leave status updates visible to everyone. However, most default settings include little protection for users.
"They'll set your profile default as pretty wide open. So you need to go in there and lock that down," said Free.
Your kids may not like it, but parents should keep tabs on their kids online. Being involved in who your kids are talking to, could keep cyber predators at bay in the digital age.
For more tips on keeping you and your family safe while social networking, click here for the Federal Trade Commission's guide.