We’re always told not to give personal information to anyone unless there’s a good reason for it. Identity theft is a very real danger and personal information is a valuable commodity to those dishonest enough to want to steal it.

And yet retailers and other businesses often insist that we provide it. Whether it’s relevant to our purchase from them or not.

I received an email from a brewer whose website I have visited. I didn’t sign up for emails, I didn’t purchase anything. But I had to provide information to prove that I’m over 18 because the website content may be unsuitable for those under legal drinking age. So I had to provide my full name, date of birth, email and home address. Just for a casual browse on their website. But this email tells me their database has been hacked and that my information has been stolen.

Just think about that.

I gave them information in good faith and they’re now telling me they kept it on their database and it has been stolen. I’m sure there was a box I ticked which said I gave them permission to keep the data – after all, who reads the Ts & Cs every time they visit a website?

They say this happened on 28th September, which tallies with the huge increase in SPAM I’ve been experiencing for the last month or so. And those spammers apparently have a lot more info about me, too. A dangerous amount.

As far as I’m aware, I have no legal comeback on the brewers. I can’t prove that the people filling my inbox with adverts for body enhancements and phishing messages got my info from them and neither would I be able to prove that someone trying to steal my identity had found my date of birth and full name on that particular database.

They have the temerity to include advice in their email on how to protect my identity.

But here is my suggestion on how to avoid your information falling into the hands of criminals:


I’m pleased to say, I gave them a false date of birth. I have one I use for just such an occasion. It’s feasible, it’s a date it’s easy for me to remember and I always use the same one when I don’t accept that a website has a right to that information.

I’m so glad I lied to them.

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