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Tip of the day...Privacy

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Jonesey Report 3 Jan 2010 08:30

Privacy is I am sure important to all of us but do you realise exactly how little we have and how easily and quickly it can be eroded?

A very common security question asked when we join a subscription website, apply for a credit card or open a bank account is “What was your mothers maiden name?”. Most will answer truthfully but with birth and marriage records on sites such as Freebmd and Ancestry (Free in most public libraries) being available to anyone, the answer can be easily discovered by anyone who looks.

Another weakness is when we or our children are included in our own or someone else’s public or private family tree on Ancestry even if shown simply as “Living”. An example being if someone looks up a BMD record about us/them. In such a circumstance a note of that look-up will appear in the “Recent Member Connect Activity” section of every Ancestry member who has us/them in their family tree on Ancestry . Even if the tree is one designated “Private“, one click later anyone who receives that note will know what that living” persons name is, plus, when and where they were born or married. It will probably not matter if the other tree owners are close relatives but what if you/they only appear in the tree because you/they are a very distant relation by marriage or because a “Name collector“ has added them? A sobering thought!

Two suggestions:

A) Never answer the “What was your mothers maiden name” question, select another security question.

B) Do not include anyone living in your family tree on Ancestry.

This tip is not meant as scaremongering but merely an attempt to make people aware of the possible risk to someone’s privacy if they appear in a family tree on the internet.

Sweet dreams.


Carter Report 3 Jan 2010 11:19

great advice jonesey. i have always told friends not to use mothers maiden name as a security question but didnt know about the other stuff on ancestry.
thanks once again


Jilliflower Report 3 Jan 2010 14:15

Hello uncle Jonesey,
Long time no see as I let my sub lapse...
Never even thought of this one so thanks


BettyLou Report 3 Jan 2010 20:25

Hi Jonesey,

Your suggestion B - does that include living relatives on FTM tree with the Ancestry connection? I do not have a tree on Ancestry itself.

Hope that doesn't sound too dippy but I've never been quite sure how much control Ancestry has over my FTM.

Thanks for all the useful tips Betty


Joy Report 1 Oct 2012 18:52

Another useful tip by that ever-helpful Jonesey :)


JillyWilly Report 17 Jun 2014 20:16

So true you can never be to careful with info anywhere.
There are also quite a few name collectors, it seems the more people they have in their tree the more they want even if they are no relation.


DazedConfused Report 18 Jun 2014 12:03

Never use my mothers maiden name.

Usually one of my grandmothers'.

Oh how I miss Jonesey <3