Quick: On a scale of 0 to 5 (0 being nearly invisible, 5 being at risk), how much of your identity is exposed on the Internet? If you’re wondering, there are some tests you can try that will give you a good idea of you Identity Exposure index (iEi). Here are the tests I performed and some calculations you can use. I chose these tests because they could give an identity thief enough information to impersonate you under the right circumstances. For example, knowing your mother’s maiden name and a former address might be enough to get past a security question or two. Heaven forbid your Social Security number shows up anywhere on line!
Keep in mind that this isn’t absolute by any means; it’s more of a quick-and-dirty estimate. But what you find might surprise you.
Use any top search engine. I used Google. My test results are shown in parentheses.
1. Search your name in the form you commonly use; e.g., Ken Harthun, not Kenny, Ken G. or other variants. Count the number of accurate hits on the first page. (9)
2. Search your full legal name as it appears on your birth certificate. Count the number of accurate hits on the first page. (3)
3. Search your mother’s married name, with and without her middle name and middle initial. If her maiden name shows up anywhere on the first page, count 10; if not, count 1. (10)
4. Search the last six digits of your Social Security number, including the dash. If your name shows up anywhere on the first page, count 10; if not, count 1. (1)
5. Search your home phone number with area code. If your current address is shown, count 10; any former address, count 5; else, count 1. (5)
Now, add all the scores. Maximum score is 50. Divide by 10 to get your iEi. It’s your choice whether or not to round off.
As you can see, my score was 28, so my iEi is 2.8, which is above the median. For comparison purposes, I also did the tests using my wife’s information and her iEi is 0.7. That makes sense because she does almost nothing on the web, save for checking her one Yahoo! mail account.
I’m interested in some feedback on this for a future article and to further refine the tests.