Social media can be a lot of fun, but if you’re not careful, it can be an easy road to identity theft, account takeover, and more. The three texts mentioned above are from actual poststhat have come across sites like Facebook, inviting others to share their answers…but why?

“Who Remembers Their Childhood Phone Number? Share It Below!”

“Tag Your Mom If She’s the Best Mom in the World!”

“What’s Your Dragon Name? Find Out Below and Share It in the Comments!”

Social media can be a lot of fun, but if you’re not careful, it can be an easy road to identity theft, account takeover, and more. The three texts mentioned above are from actual posts that have come across sites like Facebook, inviting others to share their answers…but why?

Think it through: does anyone really care if you can remember your very first phone number? Wouldn’t it be enough to simply answer yes or no, rather than proving it by typing it in the comments? The only people who genuinely care about this knowledge are people who are hoping to figure out the name of your hometown from the area code and call prefix.

The name of your childhood town, or rather, the city where you were born…

Of course, your first phone number might not have been the city where you were born. One ITRC staffer has a hilarious story about being born in another city while her parents were simply passing through. But that’s obviously not the norm, and it just means that a scammer would have to give up and move on to the next person who’d answered the question.

Who has the best mom in the world? I do, of course! And I’ll prove it by tagging her in the comments! Not just typing her first name or the words, “My mom is the best,” but actually tagging her according to the post’s instructions. But once I’ve tagged her, a scammer can simply click on the profile name and see her account. Many women use their maiden names in their social media profiles so that childhood friends can find them.

So, now the scammer has my mother’s maiden name…

But what can be the harm in finding out my “dragon name?” All I have to do is match up the month I was born with the date, and then I pick from the list of names. Once I type “Golden Slasher” in the comments, the scammer knows that Golden equals August and Slasher equals the 3rd. Based on information in my profile, like the fact that I’m in the Class of ’67 Facebook group for my high school, it gives an identity thief plenty of jumping off points to guess my complete birthdate.

And now they’ve got my birthdate…

Posts like these are common on social media, and they fall into the category of oversharing. You might think you’re just playing along and having fun, but the thief who first originated the viral post is gleaning identifying information from thousands of social media users at a time. It only takes a few seconds’ work to figure out if your answer leads to access to your account.

Remember, adopt an air of caution when it comes to the things you share about yourself or your family, especially when you don’t know where that information will end up or who will be able to see it. It’s far better to be a party-pooper (because everyone was just DYING to know your dragon name) than a victim of identity theft.

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