Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Dangers Of Using Date Of Birth on Missing Love One’s Posters

By Cynthia Caron

It is very stressful and difficult for a family when their loved one becomes missing. Many times the first thought is to get a poster made and start hanging in the neighborhood. This is a good thing, however, it is not a wise situation to place a missing loved one’s date of birth on a missing poster, internet banner or website. While this has been standard practice for many years, LostNMissing Inc. is trying to change that practice.

At LostNMissing, we never post publicly our missing loved one’s date of birth. We believe it is an easy target for someone to steal the identity of a missing person. At the same time, it can literally throw an investigation off in the wrong direction.

Let’s take for example when an adult becomes missing. For one, the police sometimes have the mentality that “adults have the right to go missing” and shouldJane Doe go missing from Colorado, and her identity becomes stolen and credit card purchases start happening in Ohio, it can waste valuable time on behalf of the police in having to prove if in fact that is Jane Doe. Worse, they may simply tell the family that “your daughter is alive and well and living in Ohio and because she is an adult and has the right to go missing we are going to close the case.” Can you imagine?

I do not understand the point in putting someone’s date of birth on the missing poster. Their age, yes. Absolutely. Should a loved one be missing for a couple of years, one could update the poster with Jane Doe, 22 at time of missing in 2008. Age 24 in 2010. That is all that is needed. I especially become very concerned when I see children who are missing and their posters contain their date of birth! They are the easiest targets of all due to their “clean credit history.” Let’s hope police agencies and other missing organizations take notice and consider the practice of not adding date of births.

Cynthia L. Caron
LostNMissing, Inc
Cell: 603-548-6548
Office: 603-965-4621


  1. I would also like to point out that missing children, whose date of birth are on posters, leave it "wide open" for those who abduct children and/or parental abductions to aid in building a new identity of the child they've abducted...merely by finding a similar child's features and date of birth along with common names that could go undetected. Especially when some of the missing children are missing "temporarily" due to running away. Once they are removed from the "radar"...their info is "open market" for identity theft.

  2. There is a reason that information is provided. It is to assist agencies working missing/unidentified person cases. The date of birth provides us the key to access the missing person's NCIC record. That record, which is available to law enforcement agencies and coroner/medical examiners across the country, provides us with valuable information. If you stop posting the date of birth your posters will be of no use to us...

  3. I do understand, Becky. But it does not need to be public knowledge. That information is always provided should a need, such as what you are speaking about, be requested by the agency working with law enforcement. It does not need to be publicized to the general public. The NCIC record is accessible via law enforcement through agencies that work directly with law enforcement and available to those with a need who know to maintain that information with confidentiality. It is our belief, at LostNMissing, that it does not serve the public any use and could possibly lead to more concerning situations than what already exists,as explained in my post and article above.

  4. Becky,
    Our posters are for the general public to view with the hopes that a recognition be made. Any agency that wishes to contact our agency for further information, we certainly would comply and assist. At the same time, we always report the investigative agency on all posters. We do maintain the NCIC and/or Missing Person's case number and date of birth, as well. Hope this explains a bit better. Thanks for your insight.

  5. I am the public....I am an advocate who happens to "work" with law enforcement. When I see the poster of a missing person that I believe may be a match to one of our unidentified cases I want to access the NCIC record to obtain the information that is not provided in the poster. Unless we have the missing person’s NCIC number, we need to enter their name and date of birth (DOB) to access it. Yes, I am using NamUs. I not only enter and manage our missing person cases, but I am also a case manager for our unidentified person cases. I also assist agencies nationwide with their missing person NamUs records as well as NamUs administrators (nationwide) with identifier records (fingerprints, dental records, and/or DNA) obtained while comparing their missing person cases with our unidentified. So you see, I am a very proactive NamUs user. I also promote NamUs to every agency (law enforcement and coroner/medical examiner) that I interact with and assist them with registering when needed. So, all that being said, you may already know (or not), only a fraction of missing person cases and a fraction of unidentified cases have been entered into NamUs thus far. In addition, not all NamUs records are updated with the identifier records. Many times I will find that a particular missing person has dental records available and their dental characteristics broadcasting in their NCIC record, but the NamUs record indicates “not available”. So again I say…. if the missing person poster does not list the DOB (or the NCIC number), then it is of little use to law enforcement agencies. It forces us to contact the investigating agency to inquire what they have, rather than go directly to the NCIC system (where they already entered it).


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