More than a few people were posting birthday wishes this morning as soon as I logged on. That’s very kind of everyone, and I appreciate it… but it’s not my birthday.

Facebook is telling you that October 23 is my birthday. Twitter will tell you it’s October 19. Other social networks will report other dates. It’s not. It’s relatively close to my birthday, but not in fact my birthday. I use these online in lots of places because it’s convenient, easy to remember, and most importantly, it allows me to know which companies online have compromised my privacy based on who starts sending me birthday offers, etc.

The Holy Trinity of Identity Theft

Date of birth is one of the holy trinity of identity fraud. Name, date of birth, and social security number will get you VERY far as an identity thief. Combine it with an address, and you’ve got just about everything you need. It’s also a highly-prized piece of marketing data.

Do you trust social networking companies like Facebook to not resell your information, or to have their databases compromised by hackers? I certainly don’t, especially given recent privacy breaches. I wholly expect them to compromise my privacy and then cite some obscure clause buried deep in the terms of service that allows them to do so. I trade with them. You can compromise my online privacy and resell my data, and in return, I’ll give you bad data. We’re both happy that way, and chances are your marketing partners won’t know the difference anyway.

Is it my intent to deceive my online friends? Not at all. It’s to deceive the companies that aggregate personal data online – including the major social networking services. Hence, thanks to everyone for the UnBirthday wishes.

What are YOU telling data aggregators?


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