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RISMEDIA, May 12, 2010—The number of online U.S. households using social networks such as Facebook and MySpace has nearly doubled in the past year expanding online opportunities for criminals.

According to Consumer Reports latest State of the Net survey, in the past year, 52 percent of adult social network users have posted personal information such their full birth date which can increase their risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime. The survey results, tips to protect users’ information online and Ratings of security software are featured in the June issue of Consumer Reports and on www.ConsumerReports.org.

“Many people use social networking sites to share personal information and photos with their friends quickly and easily,” says Jeff Fox, Technology Editor for Consumer Reports. “However there are serious risks involved which can be lessened by using privacy controls offered by the sites.”

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,000 online households in January. Consumer Reports found that 9 percent of social network users experienced some form of abuse within the past year, such as malware infections, scams, identity theft or harassment. Users who post information such as a full birth date – month, date, and year – (38 percent), photos of children (21 percent), children’s names (13 percent), home street address (8 percent) and details when away from home (3 percent) are especially vulnerable to becoming victims of abuse. And cybercrime can be costly – Consumer Reports estimates that Americans have lost $4.5 billion over the past two years and including replacing 2.1 million computers compromised by malware.

To coincide with the release of the State of Net report, Consumer Reports will convene a panel discussion about social networks and consumer behavior on Tuesday May 4th in New York City. Panelists include Jeff Fox, Consumer Reports, Meenesha Methal, Federal Trade Commission, Lee Tein, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Adam Ostrow, Mashable. The event will be broadcast live on Consumer Reports’ Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ConsumerReports.

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