WARNING about identity thieves and imposters!

Started by Tomáš Juriga on Thursday, January 13, 2011


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1/13/2011 at 1:19 PM

Hi, all Geni users!
Today happened something strange: somebody called my mother pretending to be a relative - but this was a lie, he got some facts wrong and was a bad actor. The guy asked my mother to meet her and give him some money (on the phone!), of course she denied.
I assume that my recent edits here are pure coincidence - but maybe not.
So all users of Geni be warned! If anybody calls you pretending to be someone of your relatives - be careful!!! Professionals of all kinds are populating the online world and trying to make their business - maybe not all of them are so dumb like the guy on the phone... be careful with the information published!
What about you? Have you made similar experiences?
Have a nice day,

1/13/2011 at 2:02 PM

This happened to a family member of mine and his 80 year old grandmother did give the person the money. He also thought Geni might be the reason but since neither his grandmother nor her phone number appear on Geni, I suspect the thief got the information from his smart phone.

1/13/2011 at 2:03 PM

There are hackers using iPhone and other smart phone apps to get into your contact list for just this purpose.

Private User
1/13/2011 at 2:05 PM

This happen to my brother-in-law and his grandmother a couple years ago. Always got to watch out for scammers.

considering that your family tree is 9 days old. It is NOT very likely that the information was found on Geni. It takes a few days (~5) for new profiles to even be found in the search index. So the chance of someone just happening to pick your mother is VERY LOW.

I don't know what information you entered about your mother, but was it enough to find her PHONE number?
Would he have made mistakes based on your actual tree?

1/13/2011 at 3:25 PM

Same here, this happened to my sister in law 15 years ago - so it has nothing to do with geni, and in her case, nothing to do with the internet, either.

Private User
1/13/2011 at 3:59 PM

In any case your family profiles would only list an initial and last name when viewed by a none-family member.

Bookmark one of the profiles, log out and try to view the page.

Then try to Google the name. I am sure that you would not find any links to the Geni profile, unless it is public, which means that unless you had family access to bookmark her page you would not even be able to find the profile, and even more find any useful information.

Your Google search would however show you enough information to suspect that this information might be used for scam, and I doubt you would find Geni as a source on that list.

1/14/2011 at 5:49 AM

Hi, interesting to read your reactions!
I just wanted to post about this issue here to document it and warn others (of our family that are currently engaging here) - I know there are many ways how this could happen, however it reminded me to be very careful with the information I publish here.
BTW - is there a geni abuse helpdesk? I can not even find a contact form on the site...??? Just in case I had some references of abuse of the information I posted *only here* it would be interesting to know how to contact geni about it...
Thank you very much for your attention!

1/14/2011 at 5:51 AM

and I can not EDIT my posts...???

Private User
1/14/2011 at 5:52 AM

Ya, edit is not a feature yet of this discussion forum, which is why we see a lot of delete / reposts.

Private User
1/14/2011 at 5:53 AM

You would just submit a help ticket for abuse.

Private User
1/14/2011 at 9:31 AM

My description above is based on default settings. You have a lot of options to play with in your privacy setting, and you can also manually change the privacy of every uinclaimed profile in your family group.

You have a help section linked to at the bottom of each page and when entering a sub-category there you can submit a help ticket.

You can also submit an email to help@geni.com, and I think Geni also have an abuse@geni.com email monitored.

You will also find a link to the Wiki section below, and a visit to the Blog is also useful.

Have a nice weekend!

1/14/2011 at 9:36 AM

Your personal data and contact information can be found in a hundred different databases, the vast majority of which are not user-submitted and therefore cannot be controlled. This is the world in which we live now.

Here's my policy: When someone wants money or any of your sensitive personal/financial information, DON'T GIVE IT TO THEM. Problem solved. :-)

Private User
1/14/2011 at 4:23 PM

When it comes to your own Internet activity I have a simple rule: If you have secrets you simply don't publish them on a website regardless of what privacy guarantees they offer.

When it comes to Geni most basic genealogy information you enter here is already official information. You cannot get born, marry, get kids, die and so on without having a registration of that in a public database, and whatever else you add or make public is your personal choice as long as you follow the Geni terms you find a link to at the bottom of every page. By default the information you add to your own and family profiles is more unavailable than official records.

Anyhow, even if you find frightening information about yourself by using Google you should not freak out. The chance for becoming a victim for scam is extremely small if you use common sense when people contact you.

Showing all 14 posts

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