Jackie here, with AllClear ID. Genealogy is a popular hobby right now, partially thanks to TV shows like NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? and PBS’ Finding Your Roots. The internet has made it a lot easier for amateur genealogists to find family information, but it has also opened the door for identity theft. How can you protect your identity when researching your genealogy online?

Don’t Make it Easy for ID Thieves

Many genealogists create family websites to share their heritage information with family members and others. Sharing some information online is fine, but just like with social media, you do need to use caution. Limit the information you are posting about relatives, especially if they are living. If you wouldn’t share the information you are posting with a complete stranger, you shouldn’t post it openly online.

Respect the Privacy of Others

Even if you are comfortable sharing a lot of your personal information online, your relatives might feel differently. It is important to protect others from privacy violations and identity theft by respecting their wishes and only sharing personal information with permission. The National Genealogical Society has created a list of guidelines to help you safely and respectfully share information. Genealogy depends on the sharing of information and records, and safe sharing will protect yourself and others while you engage in this hobby.

You Can’t Take It Back

When it comes to sharing personal information, it is important to remember that you can’t ever un-share. Once the information is out there, it can’t ever be taken back and you have no control of how others will use that info. Protect your personal information, especially the information that could compromise your identity.

Looking Out for Deceased Relatives

ID theft risk isn’t only for the living; your deceased ancestors and relatives are at risk too. Check out this recent blog post on id theft and deceased and protect your loved ones from falling victim to this crime.

It is important to always use common sense when sharing personal information online whether you are in a chat room, running a website or using a genealogy forum. For more information about protecting your genealogical information online, check out this great article at Genealogy.com.