Hank Investigates: Private lessons
Every one of these people has secrets, their computer password, their bank account access code their credit card info.
Ask anyone if they'd divulge that information they'd insist no: it's private.
"Would you ever give your computer password to a stranger?"
"No absolutely not."
"Not absolutely not."
"No one in their right mind would do that."
But this person and this one and this one and dozens more all gave us all kinds of keys to their identities and their finances. And it was easy.
Here's how we did it.
Each of these innocent looking poll takers is actually an employee of RSA a computer security company in Bedford. But they're not really taking a poll as we watched, they got unsuspecting shoppers to tell things they shouldn't.
"Could you fill out a survey?"
Here's the scoop: our innocent looking 19-question survey was carefully designed to extract valuable info.
The first questions sound simple: name and address and 100 per cent of people revealed that. But think of it: 100 per cent of people told a stranger exactly where they lived. And there's more. When we asked: Date of birth? 94 per cent of people wrote that down, too.
And that's not all: Place of birth? 100 per cent divulged it. With name address birthday and place of birth experts know an identity theft scammer would have all they need.
Chris Young/RSA Security
"It could be quite severe in some cases some people have to spend years if their identity has been stolen."
And the confidential info kept on coming.
"People gave us everything they gave us the farm."
Ever use your pet's name as a password? Studies show that's one of the most common choices for access to home and work computers. Even so: 78 per cent of people we polled revealed it without hesitation.
Your mothers maiden name so personal everyone knows banks often use it as the key to confirming a customers identity.
We found For some: this question was pushing the limit.
"Why would they need my mother's maiden name?"
But watch: 72 per cent just filled in the blank and told us what we asked. As we eventually explained to surprised shoppers--in the wrong hands, that name could make it open season on their bank accounts.
"Well I was stupid."
"Apparently I'm the type of person who should pay more attention."
Why did dozens of people disclose their most personal info to perfect strangers? Well, we did offer them a chance for a 50 dollar gift certificate.. and our pollsters looked nice and unthreatening.
"You leave your brains behind on a holiday."
Chris Young/RSA Security
"What is the reality?"
"The reality is that information could be used against you later."
Its a lesson in cyber security: beware of innocent-sounding questions your privacy could be at risk.
"I shall not do this again!"
Of course we destroyed the surveys when our experiment was over so no one's info was really compromised and congrats to the woman from Salem who won that $50 gift certificate.
(Copyright (c) 2006 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)