Monday, February 27, 2006
7 News Features: Private Lessons
Most of us think we are pretty savvy about protecting our private information. But seven's Patrick Fraser found out, just ask people nicely and they will tell you anything. It's a Private Lesson everyone needs to learn.
WSVN--We work hard for our money.
And many people work hard to keep thieves from stealing it.
By destroying the information that would allow a crook to cash in.
All you need is their name and a small amount of information about them. And then you can pretend to be them, masquerade as them and nobody would ever know the difference.
Patrick Fraser: "Now you are probably thinking, not me, I wouldnt give my secret information to anyone. Maybe not, but what about everybody else? Would people give us the bits of information that could break them? We decided to find out the simple way; by coming down here to South Beach and just politely asking them for it."
Did you give away your private information?
"I don't know." Megaly
We worked with RSA security experts at telling companies how to protect their clients personal information.
Matt Buckley: "Online fraudsters need very little information to do potentially some very serious damage."
We handed out what we called the Miami visitor survey with innocent questions like, why you came to Miami and is this your first visit?
Helen: "She said it was just a visitor's survey so I thought well..."
But mixed in the 19 questions, we asked things like your pets name, and your mothers maiden name... And we got them.
Lindsey: "Mother's maiden name, kids names, favorite sports team and your pet and pets name. So everything there. "
He wasn't alone. Sixty-four percent of the time people gave us those names. And with just your mothers maiden name, a thief might have you.
Matt Buckley: "If you have someone's name, and you have their mother's maiden name, you could call up their bank, I forgot my password can you send me a reset."
Banks use questions like your mothers maiden name or your pets name to make sure you are the only one who can access your account when you forget your password.
We also asked other seemingly innocent questions... like where were you born?
Surveyor: "Chris did fill out all the questions that we were concerned about... Where he is from, his mother's maiden name."
That birth question is another common one for banks in case you forget your access numbers.
Many people knew that, but they still answered our questions.
Len: "I am kind of techie so I know everything you are telling me"
Surveyor: "But you filled it out anyway?"
Len: "It never occurred to me that that was the reason I was filling it out."
Don't snicker at him, he wasn't alone. Over and over and over, people gave our surveyors information a thief would pay for. Sometimes just to be polite.
"She's very nice. I thought she was going to get a commission for doing it, so I agreed to do it to fill out the form. That's the only reason."
We even got information people are warned to keep secret.
"You both gave me your date of birth."
And then to make sure we had everything we needed to finish them off we offered a gift certificate.
To get it people were asked for their name ... Home address and email address ... Almost everyone gave it to us.
"My wife often tells me how naive I am, so you know, so you feel like a fool. You're absolutely right."
Of course about a third of the people were careful.
"It's none of your business. What I live, where I live what I do."
But while some people are cautious, the person beside them is careless.
This guy told us everything His wife told us nothing..
"So you made up stuff?"
Sandra: "Yes I did."
"No I was totally honest. And, I knew he would be."
And the fact that so many people were open and honest with their private information didn't surprise our experts.
Matt Buckley: "People are naturally trusting. I don't think that's a bad thing. But online fraudsters take advantage of that."
And you will never see snd never know those online fraudsters are hitting you. Till it's too late.
Matt Buckley: "The internet makes fraud happen at light speed. That's what 'fraudsters' do. They either set up credit accounts fraudulently, using information about you. Or if they get access to your accounts via your user name or your password, and then other identifying information about you."
Of course that wont happen from our survey.
We tore up every one of them.
So the only thing that came from this test... was a reminder.
Chris Young: "Be more careful the next time someone asks you for your mother's maiden name. Or if you're asked to write it down on a travel survey."
And the next time an internet crook comes after you they'll fail... Because you passed the privacy test.