Truthfully, I didn’t care much about the royal wedding during the run-up to it. On the day in question, however, you would have found me in my room trying not to cry at the eventual exchange of vows between the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The excitement and emotion surrounding an event like this can sometimes leave us distracted, something hackers are only too keen to take advantage of via scam posts on social media sites. Luckily, there are concrete tips on how to avoid identity theft, even when faced with a post that seems harmful on the surface — like the royal wedding Facebook scam
The viral con asked users on the site to reveal a grandparent’s name, the street they grew up on, and the name of one of their pets in exchange of providing participants with a "royal guest name". You’ve probably seen these types of posts before on Facebook, but what you may not have known is that these "fun" questionnaires can actually provide hackers and identity thieves with answers to your security questions.
Speaking with Huffpost, Facebook spokesman Peter Voss noted that the social media company is "looking into" the scam. Even though the social media site does not require security questions, it does acknowledge that these questions can be used to gain access on other online services, particularly those that contain confidential information like online banking accounts, a work email, and employee logins that often use security questions as an additional layer of security.
If you got caught up in the moment and played the "royal name game", here's what you need to know to avoid this type of scam in the future.
Not sharing the answers to security questions is vital, as well as changing your passwords on the regular — along with not using the same password twice — is the best way to keep your accounts secure. It's also important to ensure that the encryption functionality of internet connections — particularly wifi routers — are used. This effectively secures the data transfer between you and the internet, which public wifi would not.
However, it's not only text-based answers you give online that can reveal aspects of your identity. Ticketmaster have outlined the dos and don'ts of sharing pictures of your gig tickets. Even if you're eager to share that you managed to get your hands on tickets to see Taylor Swift, it's important to remember to be wary of sensitive information — like your address, credit card information and even ticket barcodes — that you could be posting online. Obviously, there are certain pieces of information that can fall through the cracks, like a misplaced bank card or a passport left in the airport toilets. But it's vital that you keep an eye on your social media, email, and banking accounts in the event that you feel as though your online identity may have been compromised.
Not accepting friend requests from strangers (we all knew that person in school that somehow raked in over 1,000 friends) is also important when it comes to prevention. Turning on two-factor authentication — as tasking as it may be — adds that extra layer of protection too, which will allow you to scroll through social media without the risk of becoming a victim to identity theft. It's also a good idea to keep a solid record of purchases, receipts, and emails so that if your identity were to be breached for whatever reason, you'll be able to deal with it before it goes south.
The truth is though, all it takes is an event like the royal wedding to distract your mind away from the necessities of keeping sensitive information safe online. But moving forward, try to trust your instinct. If a post seems a bit off, don't fill it out. If you don't recognise an email address, don't open it. Stay alert and stay safe.