Officials with the Stone Mountain Police Department are asking residents to stop taking quizzes on social media apps such as Facebook, stating the “fun activity to pass the time” is actually a scam to gather personal information.
On Jan. 31, Stone Mountain police posted warnings on its social media pages asking social media users to stop clicking on quizzes where users are often asked to “tap to play” and then answer a series of questions in a pop-up window to reveal an answer or quote. The problem, stated Stone Mountain Police, is that these apps are designed to be used by marketers and scammers to gather personal information.
“These are third-party apps that are not developed to show you what ice cream flavor you are,” stated Stone Mountain police. “They have been designed to gather specific details.”
According to PC Magazine, a third-party app is an application that is provided by a vendor other than the manufacturer – meaning a quiz on Facebook was not designed and is not regulated by Facebook engineers.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), social media data and quiz answers can be used to steal an identity or enable a scammer to impersonate a person to their friends and family online.
“A few questions are answered to prove how well the user knows a friend or a short personality test is offered to match with a character from a favorite TV show,” said BBB officials. “These quizzes appear to be meaningless, but the intent behind them is to collect information. For example, questions like ‘What was the first car you owned?’
‘What is your mother’s maiden name?’ or ‘What is the name of the street you grew up on?’ are common security questions for insurance, banking and credit card accounts. Sharing this information can lead to accounts being hacked, and personal and financial information being stolen.”
Officials with BBB recommend taking the following steps to minimize the chances of being scammed on social media through quizzes or other third-party apps designed to look like a game:
• Be skeptical and before answering a quiz, figure out who created it. “Is it a trust-worthy brand?” asked BBB officials. “Just because something appears to be fun and innocent, doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk.”
• Review the social media account’s privacy settings and be strict about any information that is shared.
• Remove personal details from a profile and do not share information such as a phone number or home address on social media accounts.
• Be cautious if the questions in a quiz ask for things such as mother’s maiden name, an old address, previously owned vehicles, favorite foods, or the name of your high school.
• Don’t accept friend requests from strangers. “Also be wary of a second friend request from someone you are already connected with; the second profile may be an impostor trying to access your data and your friends list,” stated BBB officials.
For more information, visit https://www.stonemountaincity.org/departments/police/index.php.