INDIANAPOLIS, Ind – The next time you see an online social media quiz to determine your spirit animal or super hero name, experts say you should think twice about who’s gathering information about you and why.

Online social quizzes or questionnaires seem like a fun way to find out which personality type you are, or which Hollywood actor would play you in a movie.  However, cyber security experts at the Federal Trade Commission say the quizzes are thinly-veiled ways for hackers to learn more about you in an attempt to break into your online accounts.

Where did you go to high school?  What kind of car do you drive?  What city were you married in?  What was your mother’s maiden name?

Look familiar?

Many of these questions are identical to questions often used for an extra level of security on our bank websites and various online accounts.  A smart hacker can use the answers to these questions to build a profile about.  If they are able obtain things like your email address, birth date and other pieces of information, they can combine those with some of the answers to the quiz questions.  

That can be very bad news.  Imagine a hacker is suddenly able to log into your bank account website, or hack your social media account.  

Have you ever received a friend request from someone you’re already friends with on Facebook?  Those are usually followed by a message from your friend saying “If you get a friend request from me, ignore it.  I’ve been hacked.”

Or, the hacker may simply send direct messages to your friends and followers with links that contain malware.

To protect yourself, the FTC recommends simply avoiding and ignoring such online quizzes and surveys.  Also, the FTC says you should make sure all of your passwords are strong and updated.  In addition, it’s okay to use fake answers to those security questions on your banking site or social media account.  That way, if someone happens to know real information about you, they won’t be able to use it to hack your site.  Just make sure you remember the fake answers you submit.

The FTC has more tips to avoid these hacker strategies on their website, which you can check out here.