Simple to Steal
Special Report: Simple to Steal
More and more people are involved in online networking sites. They're sharing their thoughts and pictures. But they're also sharing a lot of personal info.
"It is dangerous. We should avoid placing all this information out there," Steven Domenikos, an Identity Truth security expert says.
When you're connecting online - and filling out your profile - experts say you could be leaving yourself vulnerable.
The trouble can start with something as simple as your birthday.
One Facebook user admits, "I put my birthday on my page."
Another adds, "I don't know why I list my birthday on Facebook."
It seems harmless putting your birth date in your profile - but with that one bit of info we found identity thieves can actually get a copy of your birth certificate - a key document.
And it's not hard to do.
"That's crazy to me!" says Facebook member, Lindsey. She gave us permission to try to get her birth certificate!
From just the info she'd listed on her Facebook page -- we filled out a form we printed off the web.
We left most lines blank...
We even listed a return address that wasn't connected to Lindsey in any way.
And just days later, look what we got in the mail...
A certified birth certificate that lists Lindsey's full name, her hometown, her father's full name, even her mother's maiden name!
"Yeah everything is totally right. And it's official. So that's really scary," Lindsey says.
Experts say this piece of paper makes stealing your identity very easy.
"With this information and a forged id, you can get a real Social Security Number," Domenikos says.
Would it work even if we had the wrong info?
Another Facebook member, Anna, gave us a chance to find out.
We requested her birth certificate...listing the wrong place of birth.
Anna was born in Metrowest, but we put down a North Shore town.
Still here's what we got back -- her certified birth record with the correct info!
"They know just exactly where my mom is from and where my dad is from. You know it's scary. And the date and everything about it just seems so personal to me. It's not something I would want a stranger to have," Anna says.
But Massachusetts law allows strangers - anyone - to request and receive a copy of your birth certificate.
It's completely legal here - but it's not in most other states.
And to make it even worse: You don't even have to make the request in person.
Someone on the other side of the globe could mail in a request - and they'll get the birth certificate mailed back to them - without you ever knowing.
"No one's ever brought this to our attention. We're definitely going to do something. I can assure you," says State Representative Ted Speliotis, Chair of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection.
Until there's action on Beacon Hill, your info is out there for the taking.
Another point- if there's a birth out of wedlock, or an adoption occurs, that birth certificate is private and people who request it need to be a relative of the person, or the person in question. They need to present identification when requesting a private birth certificate.
Experts say, to keep safe - Never list your birthday publicly.
Online - you should only become "friends" with people you know.
And make sure your profile page is set to "private" or "friends only"
That way, your identity won't be so simple to steal.
(Copyright (c) 2009 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)