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Who is Reading the Personal Information You Submit to Email Groups?

Do You Want to Risk Finding Out?

By CF Donnow

Copyright © 2001-2021, CF Donnow. All rights reserved. Published at with permission.

Like millions of other people who are active on the web, I belong to many email groups. Some are for business purposes, some for educational purposes and some are for entertainment and hobbies.

This morning as I was scrolling through my daily email, it occurred to me just how much information people give out about their personal lives without even realizing it.

People with children have been cautioned for years about supervising their children while online. They preach to their children, “Don't give out your name, don't give out our home address, don't give out any information about our family.”

How many adults preach Internet safety to their children, then turn around and inadvertently give out the exact information they've warned their children about?

Email lists can begin to feel like “family” before long, especially if you have developed relationships with fellow listers through the years. But one never knows all of the members of a group and one never knows the motives behind someone joining a group.

Forget worrying about useless SPAM in your mailbox and consider your personal safety. The following scenarios are a list of things that personally scare me for the safety of some people and their property, especially women, on email lists:

Scenario 1: Announcing That You'll Be Gone

When going on vacation, a lister will announce,

“I am going 'no mail' because we are going to the mountains for a week. The whole family is so exited about this trip. I'll miss all of my friends on the list and will let you all know about the trip when we get back.”

And there at the bottom of the email is her signature, complete with Web site address, or phone number and home address.

You might as well put a sign out on the lawn of your home saying “Rob me!”

Tips To Avoid Problems:

Go on vacation, have a great time, and when you get back, you can then announce that you had a great vacation and will get to email that you missed while you were gone.

You cancel your local newspaper when you leave town so as not to indicate no one is home don't you? You leave lights on in your home while you are gone, don't you? You have a trusted neighbor collect your “snail mail” while you are gone, don't you? Then why tell the rest of the world you are leaving an empty house for a week?

Scenario 2: Information About Children and Family

A stay-at-home Mom with an Internet business will display pictures of her children on her site, along with their names and ages. Then in the contact information, she will give out her home address and telephone number.

Tips To Avoid Problems:

This is an invitation for trouble. Keep your business life and home life separate. No one needs to know about your children or the fact that you may be home alone with them during the day.

Scenario 3: Announcing Your Schedule, Spouse Away

I've seen email on newsgroups where women will plainly state,

“Bill is going to be out of town for a few days. The kids and I are going to go to a soccer game tonite at such and such a place. Then we are going to grab a pizza.”

If people wanted to find her home address, they could easily obtain it. You might as well put an ad in the local newspaper giving out your itinerary.

Scenario 4: Announcing that You Live Alone

A single woman runs a Web site business and belongs to an email group. She makes references in email about living alone with her cats or dogs or parakeets. Her address, telephone number and other personal information is given out on her Web site, or in her signature file.

Again, you are inviting trouble into your personal space!

Scenario 5: Announcing Your Work, Home Schedule

While discussing your day job, if you run an Internet business after hours, you give out the location of your day job, and how many hours a day you are not at home. “I had to work at my day job from 6 a.m. till 7 p.m. today at the widget corporation, then came home and worked on my Web site till 11:00, boy am I tired!”

Think about what someone can do with the information you just supplied!

Tips To Avoid Problems:

Who needs to know this information? Who is getting this information? What are they going to do with this information?

Just use a little common sense before you post!

About the Author

CF Donnow is a Web site designer and ezine editor. Visit her Web site at

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