SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A current social media trend of posting old graduation photos to show support for students who have had their public commencement ceremonies cancelled this year by the coronavirus outbreak may present opportunities for identity thieves, according to the FBI.
Federal officials in San Francisco issued the warning on Thursday.
“Many trending social media topics that seem like fun games, but can reveal answers to common password retrieval security questions,” the FBI said in a statement. “Fraudsters can leverage this personal information to reset account passwords and gain access to user data and accounts.”
Of particular concern is the trend of posting old graduation photos. Common security questions used to protect accounts often ask about hometowns, schools and high school mascots.
“Many people include the name of their schools, mascots, and graduation years which are also often answers to common password retrieval security questions,” federal law enforcement offiials said. “Other examples include posting a picture of your first car; answering questions about your best friend; providing the name of your first pet; identifying your first concert, favorite restaurant, or favorite teacher; and tagging your mother, which may reveal her maiden name.”
The FBI was encouraging individuals to be “vigilance and (give) careful consideration of sharing too much personal information online.”
Social media users should check both their privacy and security settings to reduce vulnerability. The FBI recommends enabling twofactor or multi-factor authentication when available, especially when accessing sensitive personal data such as primary email accounts, financial information and health records.
The FBI urged potential victims to report cyber fraud to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.IC3.gov For media inquiries, interview requests, and additional information please contact: media.SF@FBI.gov
The Better Business Bureau has also issued a similar warning. Officials have asked everyone to be aware of what they are sharing on social media during this time of self-quarantine and isolation. Other recent viral personal list posts include all the cars you’ve owned (including makes/model years), favorite athletes, and top 10 favorite television shows.
“What most people forget is that some of these ‘favorite things’ are commonly used passwords or security questions,” the BBB said. “If your social media privacy settings aren’t high, you could be giving valuable information away for anyone to use.
The BBB urges consumers to follow these tips to stay safe on social media:
- Resist the temptation to play along. While it’s fun to see other’s posts, if you are uncomfortable participating, it is best to not do it.
- Review your security settings. Check your security settings on all social media platforms to see what you are sharing and with whom you are sharing.
- Change security questions/settings. If you are nervous about something you shared possibly opening you up to fraud, review and change your security settings for banking and other websites.