Stop Using your Maiden Name on Facebook

There is a social media practice that never fails to make me cringe. The title of this post may give it away but here it is: many of the women I know use their maiden name on Facebook. 

maiden-name-online-security

This is something that I can understand the logic for. You sign up for Facebook, ostensibly to keep in touch with friends and reconnect with those who you haven’t spoken to in decades. But – wait! – you haven’t spoken to them in decades. Will they accept your friend request with your married name? Probably not, so you’d better add your maiden name to your profile too. Most often I see profile that say Kristin “Maiden Name” Zaslavsky.

Fool proof, right?

I worry that it’s not.

This invariably seems like a huge security issue to me. Perhaps it takes a little imagination to see why this poses a security risk. Let’s think back to almost any financial account you’ve set up in your life. What’s one of the primary security questions financial institutions ask? That’s right: mother’s maiden name. So in an effort to reconnect with your best friend from Kindergarten, you have made it easier for others to successfully impersonate your child.

While we’re at it, you should also not be publishing the year of your birth, the city of your birth, your first pet’s name , mailing address or any other pieces of information that you’re using for security questions. Facebook, in many ways, becomes a record of you. A digital page of information about your life and its major events. This is precisely what an identity thief is looking for.

Now, I don’t want it to seem like I think the sky is falling or the internet is out to get you. I certainly don’t. I am a heavy social media user. I share photos of my children as well as my full name. I just think it makes sense to be aware of what you’re putting out in the world, especially when completing social media profiles. Don’t make it easy for identity thieves or other potential creeps by fully populating your Facebook and other social media profiles.

Consider every piece of personal data you divulge online as it can have wide reaching effects. Then, relax and have fun on the internet because let’s face it: it’s kind of awesome.

*Photo credit BusyPrinting

8 Comments

  1. Jayme

    Why didn’t you just yell at me about this. You would think that since I work.for an IT company that I should know better. I think that I need to share this on my company’s Facebook page.

    Reply
    • Admin

      We don’t like to yell at our friends! 🙂 Thanks so much for the share!

      Reply
  2. Hope

    I kept my maiden name. I suppose that makes me a walking security risk when it comes to my daughter. My mom kept *her* maiden name. It doesn’t bother me.

    More and more women are keeping their names these days. Companies need to stop using them as security identifiers.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Absolutely, Hope! It’s becoming more and more common to not change your last name. Yet so many companies and financial institutions use that as their default security question.

      Reply
  3. Brianna

    I see the logic behind it, but I also think it poses a problem. I’m not married so all I have is what is technically my maiden name. A lot of people I know are married but didn’t change their last name to their husband’s. If I got married, I wouldn’t be changing my name – I’m already an established author under my name. I know there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m just putting it out there as food for thought.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hopefully companies and financial institutions will get smart and change as that is their (often default) security question. It’s becoming more and more common for women to not change their names. Yet we live more of our lives online.

      Reply
  4. Holly Wallis

    I don’t understand. In my case my maiden name is different to my mothers maiden name anyway because she took my fathers name when she married. Therefore I am not revealing my mothers name on FB. If your point is that the question could breach security issues, then surely it would do so for all people, male or female. I agree about the date of birth issue,

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Holly,

      We aren’t saying you are revealing your mother’s maiden name. What the post said was that “What is your mother’s maiden name?” is used as a common online security question. So if your mom was on Facebook and included her maiden name, it could reveal the answer to that security question of yours. Same thing if you have a child, and you include your maiden name on Facebook; you are revealing that personal detail for your child’s security.

      Reply

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