What the Tech? Why You Shouldn’t Post Selfies with Your COVID-19 Vaccination Card
Smiling “Vaccine Selfies” are flooding social media now from people who’ve received their first or second COVID-19 vaccinations.
The photos often show the COVID-19 vaccination card that people receive after getting their shot. It isn’t a good idea warns The Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission. The website Healthline posted a long article about the dangers.
Both have issued consumer warnings about sharing vaccination cards as they include the person’s legal name, birthdate, date of vaccination, and location. The warning to consumers is that sharing that information poses a risk for identity theft.
Similar warnings are often issued for other social media activities. Is this warning different or more of a threat than others? Rather than trying to answer that question, let’s take a look at how identity thieves work.
Most everyone’s personal information is scattered across not only social media but also in-app and website registrations. Photos or selfies are posted to Instagram, Facebook, and Google. A quick Google search of your name will likely call up tons of information about yourself. Data or identity thieves that might target an individual will try to scrape as much information as possible from all of those sources.
If you’re targeted, they’ll find your Facebook profile even if they’re on Facebook. If you post everything publicly, anything you post will also be visible. That includes name, family members, photos, phone number, email address, where you went to school, and where you work (and have worked).
If you use a weak password for multiple accounts all the bad guys need is to find it one time in a data breach to gain access to any account with the same password. That might be email, bank or credit card account, social media accounts, Amazon account, and anything else with the same password.
Many women use their maiden names on their Facebook profiles. If you list your family members with a link to your mother’s account, identity thieves can potentially use that to reset accounts and passwords. Mother’s maiden name is often used by companies and even the government to verify ownership of the account.
Sharing your vaccination selfie with the card visible, those same identity thieves will gain two other pieces of the puzzle to build their profile on you.
Does posting a vaccine selfie mean you’ll become a victim of identity theft? It isn’t likely. A cyber-criminal will need to target you specifically and gather all of that other information. Is it a good idea to share the photo on social media? No.
Some will edit the photo to blackout their name and birthdate before posting but be aware there are free apps available that allow someone to adjust contrast and brightness that could reveal what’s beneath the markup.
If you want to share a photo of your vaccination the FTC suggests sharing a photo of the orange or yellow sticker you receive after your shot. To make things more difficult for the bad guys, check the privacy of your posts and photos on Facebook so that only your close friends can see what you post.