Are you concerned about others knowing your mother's maiden name?

+17 votes
198 views
This is a huge issue for some people and I suspect it may be a major reason why so many people are Red private on WikiTree.

I renowned genealogist told me to simply use a different surname (that you will remember) if you are asked provide your mother's maiden name (e.g. to a financial institution).  I wonder why the American Genealogical Society (or other similar organizations) has not formally requested that groups stop asking the maiden name question?  It is however my belief that identity thieves need much more than your mother's maiden name.

I welcome your thoughts and insight. Thanks and sincerely,
in The Tree House by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (560k points)
In a NZ forum once I saw a quiz, I can't remember what it was 'said' to be about, but the questions had me paranoid immediately. When I said so in the forum I was laughed at, people were playing along in droves. The questions were, what is your mothers maiden name, what was the name of your first pet, what was the name of the first school you went to, and there were a couple more I can't remember. That has got to be dodgy, a scam. I hear what you are saying - there are some very clever folk out there.
This information is pretty easily derived without genealogy coming into play.

What I'm concerned about is security measures that rely on such easily obtained information. This is lousy security, and that endangers all of us.
For me it is personal, my mother is living and would be horrified to think her name was out there.  Out of respect I've kept her as anonymous.

3 Answers

+7 votes
Well, identity theft is a problem, but bear in mind it's hyped by companies wanting to have you pay them a handsome monthly fee to supposedly protect you from it.  I've had a couple of run-ins with identity theft over the years, but just with people attempting to use a credit card number to purchase items.  You can't stop that by letting your mother's maiden name out.  It's almost always from fraud by online vendors or a dishonest worker thereof.  Card companies are pretty good about looking for suspicious transactions and will contact you to see if a sale is valid or not.  The biggest problem is usually having to void a compromised card and getting a new one.  And I've read that in the majority of cases identity theft is done by people you know (who would presumably know your mother's maiden name without going to a genealogy site.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (408k points)
+10 votes
It's been my experience (online), in recent years, that most financial institutions offer a variety of security questions, and you can choose the ones you want to use.  And even IF they offer mother's maiden name as one of them, and IF you want to choose that question, it doesn't mean you have to use her real maiden name.
by Nan Starjak G2G6 Pilot (269k points)
The best let you make up your own questions.
+7 votes
Peter,

Family, neighbors, co-workers and “friends” all routinely post photos and information about me on social media. Like me, you probably abhor their announcing when someone in your home is ill or you're all on vacation. We are powerless to prevent others from broadcasting details that enable criminals to profit from the information.

Obituary notices and tombstones are all public information readily accessible, so family relationships and maiden names are likewise accessible.

Regarding finances, I subscribe to my credit union's and banks' free service of immediate email notification of all my transactions.
by George Blanchard G2G6 Mach 9 (91.2k points)

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