Why do some people who post information about their handguns give only half of the serial number? An example from the Browning serial # code: 245PNxxxxx. What's the deal with that? Why the big secret identity, or am I missing something here?
Hey Matt, if you find out let me know. I don't understand why they do that either. Someone I think one time said the person might be afraid that someone might claim the firearm was stolen from him. That does not make sense either. All of us honest folks buy our guns most of the time from a firearms dealer who has to record the serial numbers, etc., and we are given a bill of sale.
Many folks are afraid that their registered serial numbers will be used frudently in insurance claims and get entered into the National Crime Database as "stolen" firearms.
Not all firearms transfers are handled via a licensed dealer and as we all well know hundreds of thousands of firearms deals are handled as legitimate face to face transactions at gun shows and so forth.
Unless you know the buyer and the "pedigreed" of the firearm, there is a remote possibility that you can unknowingly be buying a "hot" firearm. Think about it for a second, you go to a gunshow and buy a firearm from a complete stranger outside the entrance to the show or in the parking lot?
Most folks also feel that since that their firearms are "registered as a purchase" via your FFL form 4473, that the information should remain confidential. The serial number is registered to you even if that information never leaves the dealer's shop and is only available for inspection by the ATF or local LEA.
So, by and large, it is simply a way of maintaining confidentiality.
If I can toss my 2 pennies in the hat here. I have personally handled 2 cases over the years wherein the serial numbers on more than one gun matched. I don't know if it happens as much now since I retired in 1995 after 25 years, but in the situations I saw a gun of one type, caliber configuration, serial number and etc. was reported stolen and entered into NCIC. A person was then encountered with an entirely different firearm but with the same serial number and suffered the embarassment of losing their gun and possibly being charged, albeit temporarily, with possession of a stolen gun. It is entirely possible that someone might see a sn listed in a forum and think they recognize it as one on their stolen list. Likewise, as Chris said, there have been folks who have taken an sn and entered it as stolen with local PD, who don't check papers for a stolen report before they enter it in NCIC. When they come up with a story about "not knowing when their cherished gun was actually stolen you have several folks fighting over a gun you have bought and paid mucho dinero for. Regards; Alan
To Chris and Aryfrosty,
Thanks for the quick responses. I honestly had no idea why they did that. First saw it in one of those "need help identifying my gun" columns in Guns and Ammo many years ago. Like I've said before, there is a wealth of experience and information to be garnered here on this forum. Thanks, fellas.
+1 with Mr. Chris and Mr. Alan. I too have handled at least 3 cases where the serial numbers were identical, but the makes and models were night and day from each other. It easily can create a temporary nightmare for someone who is truly innocent. It can also avoid some other inappropriate uses as has been noted as well.
I don't mind giving a complete serial number when required for insurance purposes, but beyond that, I prefer to never list a full serial number anywhere.
Anything you put on the internet, somebody, someplace, has stored on their local computer.
That's not paranoia; that's fact.
My parent's just got their credit card number stolen. I traced it to an online hack into a supposedly "secure, 128 bit" encryption. A charge was made to a non-existant dot com company, and that's where I lost the "scent."
I'm going to be picking the case back up after I beef my computer a bit more, perhaps even with a physical firewall in addition to the software I currently run, and I might possibly even go to an anonymizer. If there is anyone who would like to know where to get all the software I run (anti-spyware, virus detector, free award winning firewall) shoot me a PM.
I'm not trying to hijack this thread, so I'll get to my point: Nothing is secure. We're relatively well hidden here, and pretty safe. However, most people would not send cash through the mail, right? Same thing with the serial numbers on guns, and anything else you don't want others to know when it comes to the internet. I personally am pretty open about myself anymore (I used to be really paranoid instead of just a little like now
) and I do put more up about myself than I used to. I tell even more via PM to friends I've made here. But, it's nothing that will hurt me should it get out.
One thing I will not type on the internet is my firearms' serial numbers. There are programs, artificial intelligence, which are designed to look for anything that might be a credit card number or other alphanumerical code, and serial numbers (of any sort) fall squarely into that catagory. On the automotive forums I frequent it's generally understood that you do not give out your VIN for any reason whatsoever over the 'net. I can tell you a letter Z on a Chevy Blazer indicates a 4.3L high output motor, but I'll be danged if I'm gonna tell you my whole VIN number, or for that matter, ask for yours. I don't mind telling ya'll that Dad is a GM engineer and, on fullsize trucks, can sit there and pretty much decipher any number on your fullsize GM.
I'm waaaay off the topic of guns here, but I can't stress this enough: No matter how secure you think your line is, it's not. It's convenient to pay bills online - I'll grant you that. However, for my part, I've never transmitted, over the computer, my social security number, any credit card number (unless it's one of those prepaid ones you can get nowadays), any debit card number, my firearms' serial numbers, etc. The list goes on.
As well, the majority of you have spyware on your computer. It tracks your movements. Most of it is from websites you've previously visited so they can show you the content you would be most interested in when you come back. Some of it is some real bad stuff though, and could transmit your personal info right to a hacker. I run anti-spyware and anti-virus at least once per day and always, without exception, kick something up. I frankly didn't know I was that interesting. I'm flattered
This type of thing just makes me mad. It's not you, msanford, or anyone else here. It's just the fact that people like to make life a living hell for innocent people who just want to read on the internet! It's because of those same people I carry a gun. I will not be victimized anonymously or otherwise, though I once was by the State of Indiana. A name like Josh Smith isn't exactly uncommon, and one year I was treated as a criminal by the local license branch because I supposedly had a DWI in IL. I don't even like IL and have only been there on business. I had to prove my own innocence before I could get my license renewed - though I thought I was supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.
One reason I chose to use Proboards as a template for this community is because they have some of the most secure programming around, and their software resides on very secure servers. The writer of this software has issued a challenge to anyone who wants to take him up on it to hack his software. I believe the reward is $5000 or so. Anyway, nobody's done it. We did have a hacker try to attack us and I promptly gave him the boot.
Anyway... please remember these things: Anything you transmit over the 'net will be in the hands of people who have no business with it. Just assume it will be, because in most cases that assumption will be correct. Please also remember that I do my best to make us secure, and it's worked since the first few forums were thrown up and the board opened to the public more than two years ago now.
Just no VINs, credit card numbers, or full serial numbers, OK?
I hope this has helped, and I hope it's not over anyone's heads. I tried to do the "computer geek's layman's speak" thing.
Thanks for your most recent post on the subject of why people hide their serial numbers from public domain. I honestly had no idea; I thought it was just for paranoid reasons or a lot of pride in owning their piece. I guess I didn't realize that there are people out there in cyberspace who would take advantage of someone like that. That's a whole bunch of naivety on my part.
Again, thanks for elaborating on my original question.
Sorry fellows, but I am not going to let the crooks force me to crawl into a stump hole, pull the stump on top of me, and hide from the world. I suppose I am too trusting, and maybe my day will come when I change my views, but until it does, I refuse to change my life style. At this time I buy using my credit card and the Internet fairly frequently, my "medicine company" has my credit card number on file and every three months I refill my prescriptions by Internet, and one "major" company that does its business over the Internet has my credit number on file.
I really don't see much difference in this and that of giving your credit card to that little waitress who takes it in the back some place to do what ever she wants to do, or using your card to make a purchase in a store where some dishonest person in the back office could copy the number.
I realize this post is off topic from gun serial numbers, and will not be offended if one of the moderators deletes it, but what I have outlined above could very well be applied to gun serial numbers.
This is just another area where we have to assess risk and make choices. Informed choices.
We have to decide if the shortcut down that dark alley is worth the few seconds saved versus the possibility of getting mugged.
We have to decide if the .38 airweight in the pocket is good enough based on our skill with it, the likelihood of actually needing it, and the places we're going.
Most of us are here to help us make informed choices as to defensive weapons. We also enjoy fellowship, share a lot of knowledge, add our individual expertise to the group mind and all that.
But consider this: a peek at the members list will tell you that nearly half the people registered and able to read here have never posted a single time. Some people came once and looked around, didn't see what they wanted, and forgot it. Others just want to read...."lurkers" in online vernacular. They either feel they have nothing to contribute, are too busy to take time to compose something, feel their language skills aren't up to par, are just bashful, or any of a hundred other legitimate reasons.
But there may also be in amongst those 400-odd members who have never posted a few who have less than honourable intentions.
I've been doing the online thing going on 20 years now, and I have gotten to where I can judge people pretty good from what they type. I can't tell much about the ones who don't post, or if they're robots looking for info.
My personal comfort level in regards serial numbers is I won't type a full number in text, but probably wouldn't go to the effort to smudge the number in a photo being posted.