ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A FOX 35 cyber security expert warns that online gift registries can help criminals steal your identity. Andrew von Ramin Mapp, founder and CEO of Data Analyzers, said fraudsters can use the personal information included in those registries—such as names, addresses, event dates, and requested gifts—to craft dangerous emails.
"It's called social engineering, which is essentially the process of using information in a psychologically manipulative way to get you to perform an action that you otherwise wouldn't,” von Ramin Mapp said.
Here’s how it might work: A fraudster accesses a baby registry online and uses information you provide—such as the baby’s name—to craft an email telling you you won one of the items from your registry. Because the fraudster has crafted a convincing email, you follow directions to click where you accidentally hand over more personal information or download a computer virus.
“At that point our guards are often somewhat down because this individual or group has all this information that is personal to us and therefore we're not even thinking about: this could be a scam,” von Ramin Mapp said.
It’s a scenario expecting mother Valerie Borak never imagined. "I had no idea. I mean, it's a baby registry,” Borak said.
If you use an online wish list remember this: limit your information. “Often times these registries will ask you for a lot of information, but not all the information is mandatory. So be aware of what information is mandatory and what information you're revealing that may not be necessary," von Ramin Mapp said.
You can also protect yourself by checking your privacy options. Some stores allow you to reveal your wish list only to certain people.
Finally, take your registry down once your event is over. "It's a little scary. I definitely want to go out there and remove information that I have put in places," Borak said.