Why Posting Your Birthday on Facebook is Not Such a Good Idea

You have 250 Facebook friends ranging from close family members, childhood playmates, high school classmates, frat house buddies, workplace acquaintances and other random people. Some you know well, others not so much. 

Never before have birthdays been so exciting. In your Facebook notifications settings, you can be prompted as to your friends' birthdays automatically. Or if you click your Friends section and click Birthdays, you can see "Friends with Upcoming Birthdays."  It's fun to see 97 people write "Happy Birthday!" on your wall on your birthday!

But think about it. Do you really want your birth date, a key component of your personal information that can be used for identity theft, openly displayed on your Facebook page?

At lunch today, a friend told me that someone was able to find out his political party, but he didn't know how that happened.

In many counties, voter records are maintained online. Ventura County in fact makes it really easy to find out if you are a registered voter, when you registered and your political affiliation. All they ask for is your first and last name and your birth date. The Voter Eligibility Search is at recorder.countyofventura.org/elections/voter-lookups/am-i-a-registered-voter/#VoterEligibilitySearch.

This friend just so happens to show his birthday on his personal Facebook page. Just month and day, no year. While I didn't know what year he was born in, it took me only two guesses to log in to his voting record. This would not have been so easy had it not been for his posting his birth date to Facebook.

So unless you are interested in making it that much easier to have your identity stolen or personal information discovered, it's probably not a good idea to post your birthday to Facebook. Your real friends will remember your birthday. They either have it memorized or written down somewhere. Or maybe you can give them a hint.

There's a way to restrict access to your birthday on your Facebook page by going to "Contact and Basic Info" => "Basic Information" and clicking the lock icon next to your birthday. You can select Public, Friends, "Only Me" or Custom. "Only Me" is my option of choice. But of course my birthday comes and goes and I don't receive the Facebook-prompted birthday wishes that my friends receive.

Finding one's voter registration status in Los Angeles County at www.lavote.net/vrstatus requires slightly more work than in Ventura County. You need Last Name, Birthdate, House Number and Zip Code. 

More information about how to recover from identity theft

How to place a credit a "security freeze" on your credit file