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Avoid those ‘phishy’ social media quizzes

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February 08, 2022

If you have ever used almost any social media channel, you have probably been intrigued by a seemingly harmless “quiz” on some trivia topic or another.  

It is likely that you have been tempted to click on the link, determined to become one of “only 1 in 1,000 people will pass this quiz!”  

The so-called “quiz” might have begun by asking a seemingly innocent question like the one below:

Which pet should you get? Answer these questions to find out:

Have you ever traveled outside of the country?

What town did you grow up in?

Who is your favorite fictional character?

At the end of the “quiz” you read, “Now it’s time for your results!”

The answer is, you got ... a phish!

That’s right, the answers to these simple questions could give cybercriminals the data they need to gain access to your sensitive information.  

Armed with the correct data, criminals could very well empty your bank account.  They could steal your identity and use your personal information to buy a car on your good name, and destroy your good credit history in the process.
How can cybercriminals use this information?

The questions in a social media quiz may seem trivial, but your answers reveal a lot about you.  Let’s take a look at how cybercriminals could use your answers to the previous questions:

“Have you ever traveled outside of the country?”

This question reveals whether you have a passport.  Knowing which forms of identification you have could help a cybercriminal steal your identity. 

“What town did you grow up in?”

This question reveals a detail that can be used to verify your identity. The town where you grew up could also be where you were born, where you went to high school, or where you met your partner. Cybercriminals could use this information to answer security questions and gain access to an important account.

“Who is your favorite fictional character?”

This question reveals your interests. Knowing what books or movies you enjoy could provide cybercriminals with a hint to crack your password. 

Cybercriminals could also use this information to target you on social media. Claiming to have a shared interest is an easy way for cybercriminals to appear friendly and trustworthy. 
Remember these tips to stay safe:

Don’t share any information online that you wouldn’t want to make public. No matter how cautious you are, any information posted on social media can still fall into the wrong hands. 

Social media platforms have many security options that can easily be overlooked, such as your tagged photo settings. Review and edit your privacy settings to be sure your information is kept safe. 

The next time you see a friend or family member post a quiz on social media, inform them of the risks involved. They may share sensitive information that you both have in common, such as your hometown. Cybercriminals may realize this connection, so your friend’s post could put you and others at risk.

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Jennifer Wyatt is an Assistant Vice President of Information Security with First Community Bank.


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