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Your information, in the wrong hands, can spell trouble. And while you might think you're pretty good at keeping your information safe, scammers have ways to trick you into giving up personal and confidential details about yourself.

This is called Social Engineering and it’s one of the most common ways these criminals can get their hands on your data.

Social engineering might sound scary and complicated, but it’s really quite simple. So simple, in fact, that even a kid can explain it. Just take a look!

You May Never Send Money to a Far-away Prince, But …

Online and email scams have evolved over time, and once people are familiar with the common ones, they know how to avoid them. Most savvy internet users, for instance, aren’t tricked into sending thousands of dollars to a far-off country in exchange for the promise of millions. But new ways to deceive people are being invented all the time — whether they’re by email, telephone, text, social media, or even in person.

Stop, Don’t Answer That!

True or false: Quizzes, surveys and skill testing questions are the most common ways cyber criminals are gaining access to your personal data.

Answer: True! Has a friend of a friend ever forwarded you a quiz on social media? Have you ever been called by a research firm asking you to answer a few quick questions?Before you answer anything, make sure that it’s coming from a legitimate source, because even seemingly harmless questions and answers can tell cyber criminals a lot about you. Here’s how:

  • If you even comment or reply to a quiz or brainteaser on social media, you’re telling others that you’re an active user and could be targeted for other “games.”
  • If you give information such as your birthday, kids’ names, first pet, first car or the street you grew up on, you’re giving out information that someone could use to call your creditors and pretend to be you. Armed with these “little-known-details” about yourself, scammers may be able to ace your security questions and open new accounts, apply for loans, or even access your savings.
  • If you answer a quiz on social media, cyber criminals can look up your profile information and collect data that you’ve made public.
  • If you accept a friend or other connection request from someone you don’t know, you could be opening up all your information, posts, and your network to potential criminals.

How to Protect Yourself

Short of cancelling all your social media accounts, shutting down your email and never answering your phone again, there are lots of ways you can keep your personal information safe. Here are a few handy tips:

  • Only connect on social media with people you know. Keep in mind, your connections will see your posts, updates and photos.
  • Don’t post anything you’re not comfortable screaming from the rooftops. Social media is a great place for cyber criminals to learn about you, so the less information you give out, the safer you should be.
  • Avoid oversharing. Keep your profile, history and travel plans to yourself.
  • Remember your bank, the government or the police would never call or email you asking for confidential information such as passwords or bank account numbers. Official, legitimate organizations won’t threaten you or pressure you into giving out anything personal.

Become more Cyber-aware! Check out these tips for spotting scams and keeping yourself safe.