Fortune tellers do it. Identity thieves do it. Phishers do it. Salespeople even do it, to a certain extent. Taking a little bit of existing information and making an educated guess, trying to establish rapport and “fill in the gaps” is a common practice.
We give away information about ourselves all the time, and unscrupulous individuals can find a way to take advantage. Knowing who you’re dealing with is absolutely essential in today’s online world!
I recently received an instant message from a longtime friend, and it just didn’t feel right. She had never IM’ed me before, although we frequently exchange phone calls, text messages and even snail mail. We exchanged greetings, then I asked, “How is your new puppy doing?”
When her response read, “Great,” I knew immediately that I was not talking with my friend. I was expecting something more along the lines of, “Have you lost your mind? I don’t have any pets, let alone a puppy!”
The person on IM kept chatting, and I played along, staying engaged until I found out what he/she wanted (bank info) before “outing” them, whereupon the message window closed and the account itself disappeared. I called my friend immediately to let her know about the hacker so she could take the appropriate steps.
There are many ways to hide behind a computer screen, and many scammers trying to take advantage of those who are uninformed, unaware or overly trusting. Take a moment to review your privacy settings on your social media accounts. Make sure you actually know who is seeing your posts and photos, and keep your private information private.