As the use of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook rises, so does identity theft and online fraud, Ottawa police said.

People are putting their personal information — including their phone numbers and addresses — out there, which makes it easy for information to fall into the wrong hands, said Staff Sgt. Bill Sullivan.

Identity theft is a growing offence, said Sullivan, and the Internet makes it easy.


"With the Internet, you don't know who you're dealing with," he said. "You really have to be conscious. You have to be careful because you don't know who you're talking to.

"Once you put information out there, how do you get it back? It never really leaves, so don't put it out there."

The officer in charge of organized fraud with the Ottawa police, Sullivan is one of the presenters teaching city residents how to safeguard their identities at a public information session at city hall Monday evening.

Topics covered will include social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, as well as risks in the cyber world, including Internet scams.

The seminar will also cover viruses, worms and Trojans that can infect computers, as well as the importance of securing wireless networks.

The seminar is targeted to people of all ages, including teens, parents and seniors, but parents in particular "have got to be concerned about what their children are doing on the Internet, as well as who their friends are," Sullivan said.

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