We’ve all seen them (at least, if you use Facebook). Fun little games where your friend posts a list of information about herself, and then asks you to copy it into your status and change it to give information about you. What’s the harm, you think.

There could be plenty.

Take a look at the kinds of things you’re asked to share. Your first car. Your best friend. The high school you went to. Know where I’ve seen those questions before? They’re common security questions. That’s those questions that you provide answers to in case you forget your password to a site, including things like your primary email and banking websites. With a handful of these answers, it’s possible for someone to take over your online identity, or even your bank account.

But I only let friends see my posts. They already know most of those things about me, anyway. Well, maybe. Did you know that if you write a public post your posts will continue to default to public until you change it? (The same goes for the other levels as well. I was wondering why nobody interacted with my posts for a while after I uploaded a picture with the privacy set to “only me.”)

Speaking of your friends, though, are they all really friends? I’m not saying that guy you haven’t seen or spoken to since high school is a cyber criminal, but I’m not saying that he’s not either.

Oh, and have you ever gotten a friend request from someone you had thought you were already friends with? Scammers can copy people’s profile pictures (which are public) and create a new profile with the same name. Then they can use that account to try to “friend” people on that person’s friends list (which is also public).

So next time, stop and think before you join in on the Facebook reindeer games. Your online and offline identity will thank you for it.

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