Most wedding registry information available for all to see

Most wedding registry information available for all to see
SEATTLE - It's a day of dreams, wishes, wonder... filled with flowers, friends, and love -- a day some little girls plan their whole lives.

But couples planning their weddings aren't necessarily considering their safety.

Angela and Blythe are both brides-to-be. They've purchased their gowns, picked their colors, wear their diamonds, and share their excitement with everyone.

And like many first-time brides, they've registered for wedding gifts. Angela really wants a waffle maker. Blythe has already received a toaster, two fondue pots, and her towels.

"People who are happy or sad are so caught in emotions they don't think about safety as much," says Internet safety consultant and author Linda Criddle.

Criddle is a former Microsoft manager who worries about wedding registry risks. She says couples are posting their entire life stories on the registry Web sites. You can see where they met, how they got engaged, what they do for a living, and where they were born.

They are giving away their moms' maiden names, hobbies, degrees, and the identities of their brothers and sisters. Criddle fears blissful couples are posting enough information for a con to weasel his way into their credit, their medical records, and their homes.

It took Criddle five seconds to track down the addresses of registered couples. If she can find their homes, so can crooks. Criddle says with all the expensive gifts listed on a registry, a crook knows exactly what he's shopping for and can find a market for the goods.

He even knows which ones have already been purchased by wedding guests and are likely sitting in the couples' closets. A crook wouldn't even have to rewrap them to resell them.

The brides are often posting their wedding date, the location, and reception details on bridal registries. This is convenient for guests and for crooks. Now they know when the couples won't be home. And when brides post pictures of their wedding party, they are also announcing other vacant homes.

Criddle says brides should be able to share their wedding news and wish lists without worry. There is one step they can take to protect themselves and their information: a password. On many sites, the password is optional, but Criddle says it should be mandatory.

If you don't use a password, your photos, names, credit, homes, and friends can all be abused by someone taking advantage of your bliss.

I raised these concerns with people at one of the most popular bridal registries: They understand the issues and said they were glad I brought this to their attention. They then discussed making passwords mandatory rather than option with their wedding channel partners.

After much consideration, Macy's determined brides like the registry the way it is because guests don't have to remember a password. But Macy's reps say they'll now continue monitor their brides' wishes and privacy issues.

When picking a password, try not to do the obvious and choose your mother's maiden name or the college you attended.

And these registry risks also apply to graduation registries and baby registries, where couples post their due dates so bad guys can figure out when they'll be away from home and at the hospital.

When the bliss is up, the guard is down. If you're not going to use a password strongly consider the information you're about to share.