Be careful taking online quizzes

PITTSBURGH — Taking fun online quizzes as you scroll through social media can be awfully tempting.

“What age will you get married at? I’ve taken a bunch of those,” laughed 21-year-old Alexis Krull, who was shopping at The Mall at Robinson.

She says she finds them very addictive, especially the ones on BuzzFeed and Facebook.

“They’re all completely random, and I love it! I take them almost every night,” she said.

Jamie Gryder, also at the mall, said she just does them just for fun or to pass the time.

“I like how they try to predict something, but it’s too funny because it’s never true,” Gryder said.

Cole Hufnagel of Kennedy Township is a little more skeptical but finds himself drawn into taking them at times, anyway, especially when a friend sends him one.

“It’s quick entertainment when you have nothing better to do,” Hufnagel said. “You don’t really get anything out of it, so it’s not really worth it.”

Might Not be so Harmless

As harmless as it might seem to find out which Disney princess you would be or your perfect Star Wars’ name, beware of questions that ask you to share sensitive information.

Many law enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau have warned about these popular quizzes and want people to tread carefully.

“Social media users have a tendency to inadvertently give away more information than they should on these platforms,” explained the BBB’s Caitlin Driscoll.

She says social media users are 30% more likely to fall victim to identity theft, and these quizzes contribute to the problem.

Avoid Personal Questions

Be on the lookout for questions that ask you to disclose personal information, especially historical details about yourself.

“A fun quiz to find out what your nickname should be asks you to combine the name of your first pet or the street you grew up on,” Driscoll said. “Or there’s one about finding out your Star Wars’ name, where you had to use your mother’s maiden name and the city in which you were born.”

Those types of questions are major red flags because they’re the same as many security questions used for your bank account, credit cards, and other sensitive accounts.

Scammers creating some of these quizzes can take that information and use it to try and steal your identity.

Careful when taking social media quizzes

Social media quizzes may seem harmless and fun, but you could put yourself at risk of identity theft by taking them. 11 Investigates what questions to AVOID answering!-- WATCH this morning at 6:45am. WPXI-TV Pittsburgh

Posted by Angie Moreschi WPXI on Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Spoofing accounts

Another concern is that scammers can use the personal information you reveal to impersonate you and spoof your social media accounts.

Once they get a few personal details, they create a fake account that looks like yours, then contact your family and friends and try to trick them into other scams.

Also, be extra cautious when a quiz requires you to agree to terms and conditions before participating.

“It can involve giving the company access to your Friends list or even giving them the ability to make posts from your account on your behalf,” Driscoll said. “Think twice before you do that!”

Hearing some of the warnings were an eye-opener for Gryder at the mall.

“Wow, now you’re really making me think!” she said.

If you’ve got a consumer issue that you’d like Angie to investigate, contact her at amoreschi@wpxi.com.

Marketing Data

Certainly, not all quizzes are scams, but most do collect data on you for marketing purposes.

“A company is collecting user information that they can then turn around to sell to other companies or other people based on certain demographics,” Driscoll said.

Krull hadn’t thought about what would happen with all the information she was sharing. Now she says she definitely plans to be more careful taking quizzes in the future.

“I don’t like that. It feels like my privacy is being invaded,” she said.

Don’t let a little fun end up putting you at risk, be cautious about exactly what personal information you’re giving up.

Tips from the BBB

  • Be skeptical: Before you take a quiz, figure out who created it. Is it a brand you trust? Just because something appears to be fun and innocent doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk.
  • Adjust privacy settings: Review your social media account’s privacy settings. Be strict about what information you share and mindful of who you share it with.
  • Remove personal details from your profile: Don’t share information like your phone number or home address on social media accounts.
  • Don’t give answers to common security questions: Be cautious if the questions in a quiz ask for things like your mother’s maiden name, the street you grew up on, or the name of your high school.
  • Monitor Friend Requests. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. 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.

If you are the victim of a scam, you can report it to the BBB Scam Tracker to help alert others to the problem.