Congrats — you did it! You’ve spent years studying for exams, keeping up with your coursework and writing papers. Finally, the finish line is within reach. You’re graduating!
It’s a super-exciting time, and all you want to talk about is your graduation. So when a bunch of your friends are sharing their senior photos and joining graduation contests on Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms, you think it’s harmless to do it, too. Unfortunately, though, posting a senior portrait with your graduation year and the name of your school on a public platform can mean playing right into a scam.
Here’s what you need to know about grad photo scams and how to play it safe.
How the scams play out
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning graduates not to post their senior pictures on any social media platforms. Scammers, they explain, are using these sites to gather new targets. When they see a grad photo with a graduation year and the name of a school, they can take this information. Since these items are commonly used for security questions, scammers can look up more details about the target or even hack into private accounts. Once they’ve completed this step, they can pull off identity theft and more.
Also, lots of trending post-your-list-of-favorites contests for graduates can be exploited by scammers. In these contests, graduates are asked to share their senior portrait along with a list of favorites, such as their favorite songs or cars they’ve owned. This information can also be unknowingly seen by scammers.
How to stay safe
The BBB shares the following tips to help graduates and others keep safe on social media:
- Only share your graduate photos privately with friends.
- Don’t join grad photo contests that compromise your privacy.
- Review and adjust the security settings on your devices and social media accounts.
- If you believe you’ve been targeted, consider changing your passwords and security questions.
If you find evidence of fraud, let your credit union know so it can place a fraud alert on your accounts. You’ll also want to report the fraud to the FTC at FTC.gov.
Graduation is a super-exciting milestone and you don’t want scammers ruining this special time. Stay safe!