About 6 weeks ago, I received an email from a woman who identified herself as retired Air Force. The subject of the email was "Your son's identity has been stolen from Facebook" and it read as follows:
Dear Ms. Davin,
I’m writing to you because I have tried to contact your son, Tyler, through Facebook and not sure that he received my message. This is going to sound really off the wall, but please trust that I’m trying to warn your son and your family of identity theft. I really feel nervous about writing to you and your son about this, but if it happened to me I would want someone to come forward and let me know.
Because I wasn't sure if the photos and information was stolen from Facebook or the blog, I opted to remove My Yellow Ribbon from public view. As a precaution, I advised Tyler to put a fraud report on his SSN and to limit the viewership to his photos. As this story played out, Theresa did speak with the FBI and US Attorney's office, but unfortunately they are inundated with these reports and there is little they can do. I asked Theresa to verify her identity by sending me a copy of her DD214, which she did quickly and sent along with other military IDs. I was encouraged by others to verify that I wasn't being scammed.
Nonetheless, not much ever came from it. She did share with me the photos of Tyler and the texts that were sent to her claiming to be my son. In fact, this person tried to extort money from her by claiming to have luggage stuck in Pakistan and he requested she help him get his luggage back. Interestingly, Tyler did have some belongings stolen from the Conex at the end of his deployment before he was stateside.
I write about this to alert you why it's important that you protect your photos by limiting the audience. If you post photos on Facebook, limit the viewing to your "friends only" or at a maximum "friends of friends." It's creepy that it's so easy to copy someone's identity. As it turns out, I think it's unlikely that the scammer was able to obtain any personal information.
So, who can see and copy your photos?