Identity Theft and Online Safety
Identity Theft is the taking over of someone else's identity, for purposes of fraud. This allows the person to drain your bank accounts, run up charges on your credit and debit cards, etc. while
redirecting your mail so that you are unaware of it. It is a frightening prospect!

What information do they typically need in order to do this?
Full name
Date of birth
Place of birth
Telephone numbers

Mailing and residential addresses
Social Security Number
Financial account numbers

What have I done to protect you, while providing useful family information for you?
I include full names and family relationships, but no other information on living people. The deceased have no worries with identity theft, and by law the Social Security Administration must publish the SSNs of all deceased individuals to prevent fraudulent re-use of these numbers. Some financial accounts may ask for the mother's maiden name, but you can always request a different security question. So to the best of my knowledge, my website offers no risk to you, and I will keep it that way.

The greater risk
The greater risk is people gaining access to financial or employment records and using them to impersonate you. Always shred such records before putting them in the garbage. Don't leave financial papers in areas of your house where a babysitter, tradesman or visitor might see them. And watch your credit/debit cards.  My son-in-law's van was recently broken into and some valuable equipment was stolen. He hadn't noticed that the credit card he keeps in the van was also stolen until he had a phone call from the bank asking about some unusual large purchases. Fortunately he was able to cancel the card and was not liable for the fraudulent purchases. Personal safety can be compromised online by giving out too much personal information in chat rooms and social networking sites such as Facebook. (Remember to set your privacy settings so that only "friends" can see your information.
And restrict your list of Facebook friends to people you actually know and trust.) It has recently come to my attention that most large photocopiers contain a hard disk that stores images of all copied documents, which can be retrieved by the purchasers of used photocopiers. Here is a link to the article and CBS video report. So there are risks to everything. If you are selling or giving away your old computer, make sure you are not also selling or giving away personal and financial information stored on the computer.

We live in interesting times. There have always been risks, but in the electronic age some of the risks have changed. Keep safe!

Bill Buchanan