Forms of social media cautions against mothers against posting information about their children (e.g., date of birth, due date, birth weight, name, and gender) on Facebook for Mother’s Day (or some other event) have circulated for years, warning moms that putting such details online will allow some nebulous group of scammers and criminals to steal their children’s identities, fraudulently claim benefits in their names, or even pick them up from their schools without authorization:
WARNING!!! There’s a post going around asking mothers to post their kids names, birthplace and birthdates for Mother’s Day. DO NOT DO THIS!!! With that information, anyone can steal your kids’ identities, obtain SSC numbers and destroy their credit. You’d never give that info to a telemarketer, so what are you doing posting it on Facebook????
PLEASE SHARE AND ALERT MOTHERS!!!!!
Attention mother’s!!! there is a post going around FB for mother’s day asking you to post your children’s names, birth dates, and weights. please do not do this!
WARNING!!! there is a post going around asking mothers to post their kids details to show their love for their children- example- baby boy ( name), born 10.10.10 weighing 7.10lb! do not do this! its a scam for ppl to claim benefits in your children’s names! copy, paste and forward on
However, these warnings are based on completely unrealistic and undocumented scenarios. Scammers and criminals engaging in the activities referenced in these kinds of warnings would need much more information and documentation (e.g., addresses, Social Security numbers, birth certificates) in order to apply for benefits in unrelated children’s names or to steal children’s identities (or even steal the children themselves). No news or police reports document any such form of fraud involving children taking place based solely on the acquisition of such a small amount of information via Facebook.
(It’s hard to imagine a circumstance under which a stranger could successfully show up at a school and claim a child by telling authorities, “I’m not on the list of persons authorized to pick up Timothy, but I know his last name is Johnson, he was born on May 26th, and he weighed 6 lbs., 8 oz. at birth, so now you have to hand him over to me.”)
In fact, birth announcements that provide all the same information (and sometimes more) about newborn children are a common feature of news outlets, both print and online versions, so would-be fraudsters wouldn’t need to go trolling Facebook to find potential victims. Yet nobody is campaigning to eliminate birth announcements due to a supposed high likelihood of criminals using information gleaned from them. (And unless your Facebook privacy settings are set to Public, only your friends and family are seeing your posts anyway.)
Frankly, a whole lot of us know the names and birthdates of our friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and their relatives and children. If that’s all it took to steal someone’s identity or child, even those of us who never used Facebook at all would still be extremely vulnerable.