Thursday, October 23, 2008

Identity Protection Tip - Never Divulge Your Mother's Maiden Name

I recently read a question on Yahoo! Answers about someone being asked what their mother's maiden name is. Of course this is a huge risk. Never divulge your mother's maiden name! That's a direct threat to the protection of your identity.

To quote the person asking the question:

A woman sharing my last name has contacted me on facebook about family tree research and I would love to help her out. She is just asking the names of my Parents and Grandparents. I complied and she responded asking the maiden names of my MOTHER and GRANDMOTHER. This is strange because the side of lineage she is researching is the side of my FATHER and GRANDFATHER.

Yes it is strange - or maybe not so strange! This is exactly what the scammers do to steal your identity. They know the woman's name and many of her other personal details from Facebook. They can probably do a fair bit of damage with just these, but if they get her mother's maiden name as well, then there's no telling what they'll be able to access.

Think about it. How many services out there are there that ask for your mother's maiden name as a security question?

The obvious ones are the banks. Many bank accounts have mother's maiden name as a security question. If you call the bank, or use Internet Banking or even have a problem with the signature, one of the questions they'll ask you is this. It won't be enough by itself for scammers to get access to your accounts, but they're halfway there, and if they play their card's right, they may be able to get access to your bank account.

Of course there are many online services which ask you for your mother's maiden name as part of their "forgot your password" functionality. These days there is trend against using mother's maiden name, precisely because it got to the point that this was used by many services and became a target of scammers as a result.

The new model that many online services use, allows you to choose your own question and answer, to avoid this problem - however, you would be surprised how many people still use their mother's maiden name as the question and answer!

It's hard-wired into our brains now as the security reset question, so many people choose to use it, unaware that their identity is at risk of being stolen.

This means it's still worth the scammers' while to try to get your mother's maiden name. Like email spammers, it's a percentage thing. If they try enough people, they'll find one who's using mother's maiden name as their security question.

Now, imagine what would happen if someone got control of your email account. They could effectively become you. Not only do they have all the information you have in your inbox, they can organise for many things to happen. These days email is treated as being almost equivalent to signed requests in writing.

Just sticking to the internet, a subject close to my heart, many websites which get hacked through their email account. The hackers steal the website owner's email address, then use it to contact the website's hosting service and change control of the website to themselves.

In the wider world, there are many other things that could be done. Just imagine it!

Now, think about identity protection and protect your mother's maiden name like it's gold!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Identity Protection - Privacy Policy

This policy discloses how personal information is gathered and used by the Identity Protection website (, referred to as 'the site' or 'this site' from here on.


I respect your privacy and I am committed to safeguarding your privacy while using this site. Your personal data will be kept as secure as possible. It will not be shared or sold to other parties. By using this site, you are agreeing to the use of your information as outlined in this Privacy Policy.


You are required to enter your name and email address to leave a comment on this site. Your name will be displayed next to the comment, but your email address will NOT be displayed. Your name and email address will NOT be given to any third party, unless required by law.

RSS Feeds

Subscriptions to RSS feeds are anonymous and no personal information is stored.

Log Files and Web Statistics

Like most websites, this site uses web statistics software to collect information about how users interact with the site. This stores information such as IP address, browser type, referring pages, visited pages, exit pages, platform used, date and time of visit, etc. Although this information is collected, it is NOT linked to personally identifiable information, nor is it passed on to any third party.


A cookie is a piece of data stored on the user’s computer tied to information about the user. Any information stored by the site in a cookie is only used to provide functionality. It is NOT passed on to any third party.


Third Party advertising companies may be used to display ads on this site. These ads may contain cookies and information may be collected by the advertising companies. I do not have access to this information. Please check the advertisers’ websites for their respective privacy policies.

External Links

This site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that this site is NOT responsible for the privacy practices of other sites. This privacy policy applies solely to this site. When you click on a link to another site, we encourage you to read the privacy policy of that site.

Contact Information

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me using the email address displayed in the sidebar.

Privacy policy last updated October 2008.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Protect Your Identity - Be Careful With Your Details

There'll be more detailed information coming in future, but here is some straight forward commonsense tips about protecting your identity:

Be very careful what kind of information you give away and who you give it to. What sort of information are we talking about? Everything! However, the obvious place to start is: credit card details, social security number, your full name, your address, your phone number, your drivers license, etc

Look after that information.

Don't give out that information to people unless absolutely necessary - and even then think twice about.

Don't leave things with that information lying around where others can access it. Yes, that means don't leave a bill on your desk at work where other people can see it. You don't know who's going to steal your identity. It could be a colleague!

Keep an eye for people who are trying to access that information or for situations where you may be exposed.

Identity protection is all about minimizing the risk of identity theft, by being careful with your information.

More tips on identity protection coming in future posts!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Welcome To The Identity Protection Blog

Welcome to the Identity Protection Blog.

The purpose of this blog is to discuss issues around identity theft and protection of your identity. I'll be covering anything related to these two topics. I don't have any specific agenda, I just want to raise awareness of this issue.

I have a particular interest in identity protection, especially when it comes to online identity theft. It's been a passion of mine for some time. I read about identity protection a lot and want to start discussing it myself. This blog is my forum which allows me to do so.

Fortunately, I've been able to avoid any problems with the theft of my identity, but I know people who've had terrible problems after getting their identity stolen.

If you're interested in identity protection or identity theft, I'd urge you to subscribe to this blog! If you've been unfortunate enough to have had problems with your identity being stolen, then I'd really like to hear from you in the comments, so that we can help stop this happening to other people.