Can you let me have all your personal details, as I'm going to open a bank account in your name without your consent?
Can you give me your bank account pin number?
Err - no! Would be the answer to such direct an obviously malicious attempts to gain access to personal and confidential information, yet every single day, huge swathes of people freely give this information away on social media without even realising.
Obviously, the opening questions are red warning flag to most people and are just examples, but how many times have questions such as the following been seen – and be honest, how many times have you responded.
Who was your favourite teacher at primary school?
What special occasion are you celebrating in July?
What does your birth month say about you?
What does your anniversary month say about your luck?
What car did you pass your driving test in?
Where is your favourite part of the world?
Now, at first glance, these all seem very innocuous questions, just a bit of fun to spread joy around your social friends. BUT – wait, take a moment, and think again.
Each question asks you to openly divulge information into the wider world that would otherwise only be known to you. Now, think about how that information could be used.
Financial institutions, banks, credit cards, loan companies – they all use personal data to carry out credit searches. Many organisations use personal information as a 'secure' method for you to reset access to certain systems if you forget your password for example.
Now consider again – which of those questions above have you seen as a 'reset' question? Which of those questions relate to a 'memorable date' or 'memorable place'?
Those who wish to scam are clever, very clever. Gone are the days when scam artists and criminals had to physically steal your wallet or purse to gain your personal details, all they need to do, is ask and most will freely provide without even blinking.
So over time, piece by piece, these innocuous questions gather all the personal details required and hey presto – you're a victim of identity theft, financial fraud or your email/social media account has been hacked.
Who remember the Green Cross Code man – Stop – Look – Listen? The context has changed but the message remains the same.