Tech Tuesday: How do I protect my family?

I think my Tech Tuesdays keep being questions more than solutions. I couldn’t figure out a cute word to tie with a day of the week in order to ask questions. So, hopefully, others won’t mind my asking questions on Tech Tuesday. Someday I might be able to share.

Anyway… protecting my family and identity while sharing genealogy is my quandary. I came across a website that has information on a branch of my family that has had a brick wall for many years. The website is password protected. So, I contact the website owner and discover that indeed this website does have information on the family that I’ve been looking for. And guess what? I’m the branch he’s been at a loss for many years. So, mutual assistance is likely to occur.

Problem? When I asked how to gain access to his website and the family information therein, the owner asked for my full name and birth date. Since it’s possible to obtain an identity with these pieces of information, I was torn. We take a lot on trust that other genealogists won’t turn out to be horrible, horrible people. We share so much information willingly on faith that the other person won’t be careless with the information.

So, what do I do? Well, I sent the owner an email that stated my concerns with sharing my vital information. I asked if we could use my deceased father instead. Perhaps that is still pretty naive of me. However, what would you have done? What do you do?

8 thoughts on “Tech Tuesday: How do I protect my family?

  1. Marian. Thanks for the suggestion to reassure the researcher. I've corresponded further with the web owner and they're insistent that I share my full name and birth date. The reason given is that secure website contains names, addresses, and phone numbers of 'members' of the site. I DEFINITELY do not want to be apart of that. I can't believe how many people give away that much information of themselves. I know I'm paranoid, but I've had too much happen that I'm very cautious.

    So… in the end, I've decided my personal security is more important and I'll have to climb the family tree without this research. ;(

  2. No harm in giving this person your full name but not birthdate. Your deceased father's vital info (you might even mention his siblings, your aunts/uncles) should prove definitively that you're part of that branch. Since you really only need a branch of the tree that he posted, I like your idea of offering your branch in exchange (minus living people's dates of course). That's an even swap, and a great deal for you both. Good luck! I hope this other researcher appreciates how much data you're willing to share. BTW, some researchers worry that you'll "take" their data and use it or post it without attribution or permission. Perhaps you want to reassure this researcher that you only want the branch for personal use?

  3. This is a tricky situation. I suppose this other person may feel as suspicious as you do. Is there an identifying piece of family information besides your father's details you might give? Is it proof that you are who you say you are, that is wanted here? Or perhaps the person simply wishes to add you to their tree? I would ask if there was some other information you could give or give just your name perhaps.

  4. I agree. Knowing how easily this information can be used for identity theft, I would feel funny giving someone I don't know my full name and birthdate by email. I think your thought about asking if you could provide your deceased father's information a good idea. Did the owner of this website tell you why he wanted your full name and birthdate?

  5. I totally agree with the others. You did the right thing as disappointing as it might be not to get the information. I would not have provided my birthdate either.

  6. I don't see any reason why someone would need that information from you, even information about your father. Why would they even keep all of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of members? And what does that have to do with your birthday?

    You did the right thing to not give out your information.

  7. I think you were right to be cautious. I freely shared data on two of my lines several years ago and received the other researcher's data in exchange. I asked that they not publish the data, but in both cases, found the trees had been published online. Your offer to exchange branches was very reasonable, so it's a shame they wouldn't take you up on that.

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