How many times have you seen something like this on Facebook?
“I’d like to wish my amazing husband John Doe a very happy 53rd birthday!”
Chances are, you see posts like this all the time.
Facebook makes it easy to wish loved ones and friends a happy birthday and elicit additional birthday greetings from lots of other folks.
But truth be told, it’s a very dangerous practice to mention the person’s actual age in the greeting because it’s an open invitation for identity theft.
As you probably know, identity theft is rampant these days and it’s very important to do everything we can to prevent ourselves and our loved ones from falling victim to it.
Having someone’s birth date makes it a lot easier for a scammer to steal that person’s identity. In fact, all that’s usually required in order to open some accounts in another person’s name is to know their name, mailing address, SSN and birth date.
A person’s name is easy enough to get from Facebook, and once a scammer has a name it’s usually pretty easy to find that person’s mailing address with a simple Google search.
That means if the scammer can somehow manage to find the person’s birth date and SSN they’ll have everything they need to begin impersonating that person online.
Of course simply revealing a loved one’s age doesn’t directly reveal their birth date but a very simple math equation is all that’s required to figure it out.
For example, the date at the time of this writing is February 25, 2023.
If today happens to be John Doe’s birthday and his wife wishes him a happy 53rd birthday on Facebook, all a scammer needs to do is subtract 53 from 2023 to learn that Mr. John Doe was born on August 5, 1970.
Of course some people have their actual birth date posted publicly on their “About” page, and that’s a very bad practice as well, for the reason stated above.
But even if the person you’re sending a birthday greeting to has their birth date posted on their “About” page it’s still a bad idea to mention their age in your birthday greeting.
Why? Because they might decide to “hide” their birth date from the public at some point in the future but any old posts referencing their age could still reveal their date of birth to an identity thief.
Bottom line: When it comes to Facebook (and all other social media sites for that matter), the less information you make available to scammers, the better. And that goes double for ages and birth dates!
Bonus tip: This post explains how to hide your birth date from the public on Facebook.