Australian’s are being warned to stop putting personal information, such as the name of their first pet or grandparent’s surname, on social media.
Consumer Protection says that people are putting friends and family at risk of being scammed, with $5m stolen from West Australians last financial year.
Social media posts asking users to type in their middle name, first car or mother’s maiden name to reveal an alter ego, such as a porn name, are opening people up to being scammed.
The details often mirror log in prompts used by online services, such as MyGov or email log ins.
Consumer Protection warns that over-sharing personal information leaves people open to exploitation.
“All of these details give scammers the flexibility to shape their methods and communications to match your interests and use of social media,” a Consumer Protection spokesperson says.
“They might also create fake versions of real businesses and use these to run competitions or surveys to collect your personal information.”
The spokesperson advised people to check the profiles of new friend requests, avoid sharing personal pictures or videos and become familiar with privacy and security settings.
Penny Ward, who officially changed her name, lost $900 to scammers.
“I’d been single three years and my brother signed me up for Tinder,” Ms Ward said.
After a week the scammer had made contact and after two months of speaking to him he asked her for money.
It was in that moment she knew she was being scammed.
“(I) felt desperate not to lose him,” she said.
Assistant Minister for Defence, the Hon Andrew Hastie MP says people should updating device software.
“Better yet, set up the automatic update feature so you don’t have to think about it,” Mr Hastie said.