Personal Information Stupidity

A supposedly scary story about how dumb Facebook users are:

Although the 50-something crowd responding to the request from “Dinette Stonily” were less likely to give out a fully-fleshed date of birth, they were three times more apt to hand out their phone number.

Relatively few people in either group — just 4% of the group replying to 21-year-old “Daisy Feletin,” and 6% of the older users — gave out their full street address, however.

The article continues:

“Ten years ago, it would have taken a con artist weeks, maybe with the help of a private investigator, to come up with this kind of information. Or diving in garbage bins,” said Cluley.

Really? Why wouldn’t they just get a telephone book?

For those of you who haven’t heard of telephone books, it was a book that listed people who lived in a city alphabetically, along with their street address and telephone number. It was an incredibly controversial document because of how dangerous it was.

People just don’t seem to get it, Cluley said, no matter how many times they’re warned that identity thieves and other criminals troll social networking services like Facebook for useful information. “Sometimes it seems that we’re in a classroom, and all the students are donkeys,” Cluley bemoaned.

The only donkeys in this situation are any establishments that use telephone number and address as their sole validation information. This world shouldn’t be like some weird fantasy novel where if someone figures out my birth name or birth date they suddenly have untold power over me. To the extent that the world is that way, we need not more paranoid consumer behavior, but laws that make sure institutions are accountable for their verification mistakes, instead of their customers.

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