Over the past two years several genealogy contacts have warned our working group about the sensitivity of the data we keep. This is because information such as birth place and date, combined with the names of both parents, and their birth information, is often enough to start the process of assuming a false identity. Such data may for example be enough to obtain a Social Security Number, a replacement birth certificate, or a medical or insurance card. Based on obtaining these initial documents other more sensitive documents, including passports, can then be obtained, or even bank accounts and easier credit. One genealogist even indicated to us that he was taken to court for providing such information, which was then misused.
To guard ourselves from potential law suits, and to protect the many people whom we correspond with, and who have kindly provided family information, the following statement serves to assure them that identity fraud based on this data base is almost impossible.
- The data base at present is only on one computer, that of Marcel Zollinger, and no data is electronically shared. This computer is protected with firewall software, Norton virus protection and spyware software against illegal computer hackers.
- The data base has been copied onto CD ROM, which serve as a back-up for potential computer failure. These CDs are stored in safes in several different locations, and are thus protected from theft or misuse.
- A data sharing policy has been set up by the Working Group, stipulating that no information from this data base will be handed out to any contacts, in particular not contacts who have not established their credentials. Zollinger genealogists who are well known to the working group may be able to obtain print-outs of their own family tree, but these will be largely limited to the data they themselves had provided. They may also be able to obtain limited printouts of pre-1800 data.
It is hoped that this assurance will be adequate to assure all Zollinger family members that they can feel secure that their data is stored in a totally safe way, and that they should not feel any reluctance to provide their personal information for the Zollinger family tree.