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Beware What You Share

I love getting to know people. I have great joy in sitting down one-on-one with someone and asking a variety of questions.

It’s just fun! But I cringe when I scroll through my Facebook feed and see people answering questions about themselves.

  • Four places I’ve lived…
  • Four places I’ve worked…
  • Favorite TV Shows…
  • Four Things I Love to Eat…
  • First Job…
  • Favorite Holiday…
  • Birthdate of Oldest Child…
  • Hospital Where Oldest Child Was Born…

And my recent favorite –

Google the cars you have had throughout your life and post a picture of each one.

These are all great questions to ask someone to get to know them better, especially if followed by the question, “Why?”. BUT, when you post the answers to these questions in a public forum such as Facebook, you are opening yourself to fraud and identity theft.

More and more business transactions have been taking place online, even before this global pandemic.

Companies have been increasing security to meet growing demands. In addition to requiring strong passwords, many sites also require security questions.

Consider the following standard security questions:

  • What is your mother’s maiden name?
  • What is the name of your first pet?
  • Favorite musical artist/book/author?
  • What was your first job?
  • What was the make and model of your first car?

Unfortunately, in our quest to get to know one another online, we are also giving away the very information used to keep our online accounts safe. What seems harmless in the hands of our friends can be used maliciously by others. In this period of uncertainty, sadly, many will be looking for opportunities to scam and take advantage of others. So, what can you do to protect yourself?

  1. Be aware of what you are sharing on social media and how it could potentially be used against you.
  2. Enable two-factor authentication, if available, for any online accounts. Two-factor authentication is an additional layer of security that will require a passcode be sent to your email or phone prior to allowing you to log in.
  3. Enable your firewall and utilize anti-virus software.
  4. Watch for phishing scams and do not click on links from unfamiliar sources.
  5. During tax season (and especially with government stimulus and aid on the way), remember the IRS will never call you with threats requiring you to divulge your personal information.

Stay vigilant and maintain your guard. Connection with others is so important right now, but beware of what you share, especially in a public manner. We hope you are all safe and healthy.