Police Are Warning That Facebook Quizzes Could Lead to Identity Theft

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If you are a self-professed “social media junkie,” then chances are you’ve chosen to partake in a quiz (or twelve!). These quizzes are part of the Facebook landscape after all!

And, for all of you aren’t hip to the quizzes, they are, in a nutshell, multi-question surveys that ask users simple questions about their histories. Oftentimes, old friends will tag others in these posts, as a way to remember the past, together. Sounds harmless enough, right? Well, as it turns out, these social media quizzes, particularly those published on Facebook, may not be as innocent as they look on the surface.

In a Facebook post published by the Sutton Police Department of Massachusetts, officers warn social media “oversharers” of the potential dangers associated with these seemingly innocuous quizzes:

Please be aware of some of the posts you comment on. The posts that ask what was your favorite teacher’s name, who was your first grade teacher, who was your childhood best friend, your first car, the place you were born, your favorite place, your first pet, where did you go on your first flight, etc …Those are the same questions asked when setting up accounts as security questions. You are giving out the answers to your security questions without realizing it.

How’s that for a plot twist? Although it’s typically friends and family that share these posts, anyone who has a public or even semi-public Facebook profile could be exposing themselves to destructive criminal activity.

The Department continues on by educating the public about what might happen if these answers land in the wrong hands:

Hackers are setting these up as a get to know each other better game. They then build a profile of you from several different data sources. They use this data to hack your accounts or open lines of credit in your name.

What makes the matter even worse is the fact that even very short surveys with public comments sections could be putting innocent folks at risk. Take a look at this holiday-themed Facebook quiz, for instance:

It might not look like commenters are revealing a whole lot of information, but sometimes tidbits like first names and birth months are all hackers need to know to defraud an innocent social media user.

Chief Technologist for the Good Housekeeping Institute, Rachel Rothman, couldn’t agree more. “A nugget of information in isolation may not seem like a big deal, but combining that with other data that may be out there can result in a greater threat,” she told the website. “Be mindful of photos or posts that could give away information about your location or self (like your birthday) and consider if you are posting something that could be used to locate you offline or make it easier for someone to figure out any of your passwords.”

It sure is sad that we all must be so vigilant, but it’s instances like this that remind us that social media is a place that is full of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Don’t be a victim!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Facebook quiz revelation. Do you participate in Facebook quizzes? If so, will this news convince you to stop? Have you ever been a victim of an online scam?