Scott Gallacher, a Chartered Financial Planner at Leicestershire-based independent financial advisers, Rowley Turton, says he's seen scammers getting increasingly bold on Facebook in recent months.
Scammers have been using Facebook for a long time to extract valuable personal information from people and a common tactic they use is to post what appears to be an innocent and fun game, often a quiz.
For example, they'll ask “What is your Superhero name?” and give you a set of responses that you can select using your birth month and initial to generate a name such as ‘Captain Turbo’.
Hey presto, personal data
The scammer now has a key bit of personal data about you, i.e. the month you were born.
Other posts might be more direct, simply asking “Name the first car you ever owned”, “What street did you grow up on?”, or “Do you remember your best friend from childhood?”.
The answers to these questions are often security questions used by banks and other financial institutions.
In the public domain
Essentially, people are putting their personal data in the public domain in this way, which can leave them vulnerable to scammers and potential ID theft.
Gallacher says the scammers are getting even bolder as he is now seeing posts asking users to “Use the last three digits of your phone number to see what you need to be happy”. If your phone number ended 461 this would generate the answer alcohol (4), travel (6), money (1).
Gallacher warns Facebook users to be vigilant and take care not to disclose their personal data by participating in these ‘fun’ questions and quizzes. He explains:
“We like to think it’s only vulnerable people that are scammed but I know some very successful people who’ve fallen victim to scammers this year. People need to take care that they aren't giving scammers the security keys to their online and telephone accounts. How long is it before we see scammers asking for “a four-digit number only you know?”
Facebook is the world’s biggest Social Media company with almost 3 billion regular users. Consequently, the platform is a potential goldmine for scammers looking to harvest users' personal data. However, a simple search on Facebook reveals lots of these dangerous posts, so it's not clear that Facebook are doing much to protect their users.