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risks of taking online quizzes
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Security & privacy

The real danger of those seemingly harmless online quizzes

Social media is an excellent way to stay connected, but sometimes you inadvertently share more than you should. They might seem innocent, but hundreds of quizzes are going around that can expose sensitive information. It’s best to opt for an auditory illusion like this one, which doesn’t require personal answers.

Sure it can be fun to find out which Marvel character you identify with or what your taste in music reveals about your personality. But to get those results, you must answer some personal questions like what was your first car or pet. Do those sound familiar? That’s because some are used in account security verification.

Read on to find out why you must take caution when doing seemingly harmless online quizzes.  

Here’s the backstory

Personality tests and quizzes are fun to waste a few minutes online and compare results with friends. But according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there can be malicious intent behind some of the quizzes.

The flashing colors and upbeat language distract you from what is happening behind the scenes. Do you know who developed the quiz and what they do with the information? You might only click on a few boxes, but websites can link your actions to your ever-growing online profile.

However, the most significant threat to your information is when hackers or scammers develop these questions. Some are suspiciously similar to those asked in legitimate security questions, such as your mother’s maiden name, first pet’s name or the color of your first car.  

“Scammers could do a lot of damage with just a few answers that give away your personal information. They use your quiz answers to try and reset your accounts, letting them steal your bank and other account information,” warns the FTC.

What you can do about it

We’re not saying you should avoid all online quizzes, but you must exercise caution if you value privacy. If you are doing quizzes for fun, you don’t have to answer them truthfully to get a result. For example, if a quiz asks for your mother’s maiden name, answer something false like pepperoni.

In fact, you don’t need to answer these types of security questions truthfully for legitimate websites. Don’t give personal details to anyone when it’s not necessary. Just make sure that you remember the fake answers you create. A password manager can help with that. Tap or click here for more ways to handle security questions.

The FTC suggests steering clear of online quizzes altogether, but here are some other things you can do to stay safe:

  • Always use two-factor authentication (2FA) for websites and services that offer it. This adds an additional security layer to protect you from hacking attempts. Tap or click here for more details on 2FA.
  • Use strong passwords and incorporate a password manager to safeguard login details. Tap or click for help creating stronger passwords.
  • Ensure that your operating system and browsers are updated.
  • Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited text messages or emails.

If you’ve already participated in online quizzes and are worried about identity theft, there are signs to look for. Tap or click for three signs someone has stolen your identity.

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