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Surprise: Amazon gift registries aren’t as private as you thought

Amazon wants to make shopping easy, but it might be inadvertently making identity theft easier at the same time. It turns out that it’s simple to mine personal details from Amazon gift registries. This includes registries for weddings, birthdays, new babies, anniversaries, and other occasions.

The critical flaw is that most Amazon gift registries are set to public by default. The idea is to simplify finding a friend or family member’s list, speeding up shopping on Amazon. Who doesn’t like gifts? Anyone can search for a gift registry via Amazon’s website at amazon.com/registries and having found a list, several personal details are revealed.

A nice collection of wedding gifts might arrive when you register.
Photo by Yomex Owo on Unsplash

All that’s needed to locate a registry is to search for the last name and choose the type of registry, which can include weddings, babies, birthdays, holidays, and custom events. That means it only takes five searches to potentially uncover personal details about anyone using this feature who accepted the default setting of their list being public when the registry was set up.

The option to create a sharable or a private list isn’t hidden and Amazon will surely make this point in defense of registries being public. However, in 2022, perhaps Amazon should make privacy the default by preselecting a shareable list so the user can be in charge of who gets to see the bride’s maiden name, wedding date, anniversary date, birth date, and so forth. Those details are often used to confirm a person’s identity and shouldn’t be so easily found online.

Here's how to make your gift registry list more private

If you already have a public registry list and want to make it more private, visit the registry search page, find your list, and look for the privacy setting in the upper-right to change it from public to shareable or private.

A shareable registry list requires a direct link for access and you can send that to others via email, messages, social media, or even print and mail it in a card. A private registry list is only viewable by you and your partner or co-registrant.

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