A staff member subscribes to a number of free online IT magazines. Among the questions she was asked in order to activate her subscriptions, one magazine asked for her month of birth, a second asked for her year of birth, and a third asked for her mother’s maiden name.

Question: What do you think might be going on here?


Possible answer:
All three newsletters probably have the same parent company or are distributed through the same service. The parent company or service can combine individual pieces of seemingly-harmless information and use or sell it for identity theft. It is even possible that there is a fourth newsletter that asks for day of birth as one of the activation questions.

Note: Often questions about personal information are optional. In addition to being suspicious about situations like the one described here, never provide personal information when it is not legitimately necessary, or to people or companies you don’t personally know.


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