Police warn some social media 'challenges' can lead to hackers gaining personal information

With so many Americans under stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, many may find themselves spending more time on social media and participating in viral “challenges” to stay entertained.

But authorities warn that hackers can take advantage of people having so much free time on their hands. 

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Whether it’s posting a picture of your dog, doing 10 pushups, or learning TikTok dances, viral challenges on Facebook and Instagram have emerged over the past month as people quarantine at home and distance themselves from one another.

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A file image shows several applications, including Facebook and Instagram, on an iPhone. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A Facebook post Monday by the Lafayette Police Department in Louisiana pointed out the prevalence of “Facebook challenges and questionnaires that encourage you to post information about your personal life.”

The department wrote: “One of the most recent ones is, ‘Share a picture of every car you have ever owned.’ This may seem like a fun trip down memory lane, but this information can be used by someone to gain access to your personal information.”

Police pointed out that a common security question is, “What was your first vehicle?” — which could lead to users unwittingly providing hackers with personal information.

“Other challenges/questionnaires may ask you for your mother’s maiden name or where you attended high school,” the Lafayette Police Department writes. “Questions like these can potentially be used to identify yourself on your personal email, online banking, etc.”

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Additionally, posts asking users to copy and paste the post can allow the original poster to look at the accounts of everyone who has copied and pasted their information, police warned. 

“It can be extremely tempting especially with all this extra time on our hands, but hackers are sometimes using these types of tricks to learn your information,” the post concluded. 

“Don’t make it easy for them!!”

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This story was reported from Cincinnati.