"Fraudsters are taking advantage of the craze for social networking, and people do not realise the significance of the information they put out on the web and who may be accessing it," warned Neil Munroe, external affairs director at Equifax.
"More and more consumers are signing up to these sites every day and the chances are they'll put on their date of birth, location, email, job and marital status.
"We do not want to stop people using these sites, but we do advise them to limit the information they make available to stop people stealing their identity."
Mark Sunner, chief security analyst at MessageLabs, told vnunet.com that a whole new level of social engineering is emerging on the internet.
"Many consumers have only just made their first foray into this new and exciting web 2.0 development," he said.
"The last thing they will be expecting is that the same water which they treat as entertainment is already muddied with the kind of individual that makes a career out of identity theft, spam and phishing."
Equifax offers five tips to help avoid becoming a target for criminals on social networking sites:
- Do not include common verification such as date of birth or mother's maiden name
- Use privacy settings on profiles so that only close friends can view the information
- Do not publish holiday dates or other information that could leave you vulnerable to break-ins
- Do not publish information which could ruin your chances of a new job, as potential employers often search social networking sites
- Be wary of everyone. Photos and profiles are often deceptive