Updated on July 27, 2021
Now more than ever, many of us turn to our smartphones to pass the time and connect with friends and family who live far away. A seemingly natural result of this is a boost in social media usage.
If you’re active on a social media platform, you may have seen posts that include “getting to know you” quizzes or “challenges” to post specific things, like high school graduation dates and photos. On the surface it seems that these bring no real harm. But is that really the case?
Beware of Requests for Common Passwords or Answers to Security Questions
Many of these quizzes ask seemingly simple questions, like:
- What’s your favorite color?
- What was the first car you owned?
- What’s your favorite movie?
These questions look innocent enough – they’re not asking for your Social Security number or bank account information, as we’re often warned scammers will do. However, if you pause for a moment, you may notice that many of the questions listed match up with passwords you use or security questions you have set to protect your mobile banking apps, email, shopping, or other online accounts.
This information, paired with an email address or username you make public on social media, is enough to help scammers gain access to your online accounts. They may use the answers to guess your password or gain access to accounts by using the password reset tool and answering security questions.
Don’t Provide Information that Can Help Form a Detailed Profile of You
Challenges to post things like your high school graduation year and photo can also be problematic. This information is not only commonly used as passwords or answers to security questions, but it also helps fraudsters piece together a larger, more detailed profile of you.
As pointed out by the Better Business Bureau, this information, along with a quick online search of your name, can easily be used to collect identifying information, such as your hometown, birthplace, and date of birth. The more information a fraudster pieces together, the better they can impersonate you or attempt to gain access to your accounts.
Additionally, fraudsters may try to create a false sense of familiarity or trust by using the information they’ve collected to trick you into believing you know them from the past or have a connection to a family member or friend. Once they get you to let down your guard, they may become bolder, asking for access to a financial account or requesting that you wire money for an emergency they’re facing.
Protect Your Information
Whether you choose to participate in these quizzes and challenges or not, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and lessen the possibility of your information falling into the wrong hands.
Once you get your settings to a place you’re comfortable with, take time to review them regularly. This is especially important after app updates when sharing abilities or settings may be automatically altered or updated.
- Review your friends list – If you’re in the habit of accepting requests to connect from just about anyone, now’s a good time to thin out your friends list. Make sure that the people you’re connected to are people you know, trust, and want to share your information with.
- Choose a strong password and update it regularly – Strong passwords are always important, but especially so if you’ve shared information you think may have fallen into the wrong hands. Set a strong password and make it a habit to change it regularly.
One tip for choosing a strong password is using the first letter of each word of a phrase you’ll remember. So, for instance: “I love being a member of PSECU” would translate to IlbamoP. Add in a number and a character (i.e. IlbamoP20^) and you have a password that’s not nearly as easy to guess as your favorite color or high school mascot.
Get More Security Tips
Unfortunately, new scams are always arising. So, while these social media quizzes and challenges are popular right now, scammers will likely use a new technique a few weeks or months down the road. That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant, think twice before you post, and keep up to date on security trends.