Ms. Johnson? Buick Regal? What will your hilarious quiz results be when you enter your fourth-grade teacher's name and model of your first car? It may seem silly entertainment. But it's a little known thing many of the social media questionnaires people see every day are actually set up by hackers to steal your identity.
It seems like a harmless collection of random things from your past. These quizzes usually ask for details like:
- What was your first job?
- What was the name of your first-grade teacher?
- What car did you learn to drive in?
- What was your first concert?
In return, these increasingly popular quizzes promise to tell your "rock star" name or your what superhero you are. You know it's as reliable as the Magic Eight ball, but you play along anyway. We all need a laugh in these times, right?
Except that the people really laughing are hackers. If you pay close attention, you may notice many of the questions posed also just happen to closely relate to security prompts used to verify your identity online.
Cybersecurity experts agree: don't take these quizzes. While it may seem fun, there isn't any real value in filling out these questionnaires. You're simply taking the bait and the risk of having your personal data stolen.
Avoiding Social Media Scams
Here are some tips to help keep you safe from social media hackers:
- Don't get hooked into clicking on posts which seem too good to be true, especially ones promising shocking, or scandalous content.
- Be wary of any quiz that asks for personal information, especially anything could be relevant to your online passwords.
- Avoid giving out your email address as much as possible. Alternately, create a "throwaway" email account which you don't use for any sensitive tasks or accounts.
- Contact companies through trusted channels only (ex: their official website).
- Make sure that you are dealing with the proper entity's real website and not a look-alike site created by a scammer.
Also, think twice about apps that change your face into a cartoon character or a painting. Facial recognition is a more common security tool now days. Be cautious about letting apps collect your photos, facial details or any other biometric data.
What to Do If Your Online Accounts Are Hacked
#1 Change your passwords. When your account is hacked, you'll want to change that password immediately. Plus, as annoying as it is, change passwords for all accounts accessed on the compromised device. The hackers may have installed a malware that tracked all data transmitted on the device.
#2 Have your devices inspected by trusted IT experts. This is one more area to be wary. Scam artists will set up sites that appear to be affiliated to the manufacturer or phone numbers that appear to go to technical support specialists. It's best to take your devices to a physical repair shop with a real human doing the work.
#3 Set up credit monitoring. Notify any financial institutions or credit card companies if those accounts are hacked. You'll likely need to have them issue you new cards with fresh account numbers. You can also ask them to monitor your accounts for fraudulent transactions. You might also set up credit monitoring with your credit reporting agencies or a reputable aggregate site..
Keep in mind that criminals can be patient and may not use your information right away. So, don't think you're in the clear because nothing happens in the first month. In fact, many attackers will hang onto information for months before abusing it as a way to stay undetected and out of the limelight.