Short cutting people’s human instinct

My friend once introduced me to one of her coworkers. 

When the she learned about my daily practice of wearing a nametag, her immediate response was this:

Aren’t you afraid of getting kidnapped? 

Now there’s a strange thing to say to someone. Guess it never really occurred to me. 

But now that she mentions it, wearing a nametag every day could be potentially dangerous. In fact, multiple publications and organizations have been issuing official warnings about nametags for decades. 

Kidnappers know if they use a victim’s name, it makes them appear more trustworthy. The nametag acts as a point of entrance for someone who tries to con them. Which can increase the risk of crime and assault in the form of someone who pretends to already know you, taking advantage of your trust. 

Safety researchers call it the name lure. 

Bundy, one of the most famous serial killers in history, was well known for using this tactic. Using someone’s name put his victims at ease and gave the predator a chance to be engaging and soften his words. And because it happened in a second, he could short circuit people’s human instinct. 

All he needed was a second, then grabbed them, and boom. 

But that was back in the seventies. 

Certainly, we have learned our lesson when it comes to the potential danger of wearing nametags, right? 

Maybe not. Think about the well intentioned parents who label school items with their children’s name. All a kidnapper has to do is check the potential victim’s jacket or lunchbox, and they have the perfect way to lure the child into conversation.

Or what about the businessperson attending a conference in a foreign city. She goes out to lunch one day and is approached by a local man. He greets her by name, explains that he is from the hotel where she is staying, and will look after her. Then he takes her to meet friends at another hotel and buys her a drink. And when she wakes in the morning, she realizes that she’s been assaulted and robbed. Still wearing her conference nametag. 

Are these stories urban legends? Creepy campfire tales? Or legitimate warnings? 

Maybe all of the above. The guide to preventing kidnapping and abduction puts it best:

Just because someone knows your name, doesn’t mean that person should be trusted

Which brings us back to the original question. 

Aren’t you afraid of getting kidnapped? 

Well shit, now I am.

In twenty years, there have definitely been a handful encounters where my safety felt jeopardized. Trust me, there are some places you just don’t want to be wearing a nametag.

But overall, not really.

Perhaps there is a bigger question worth asking.

What’s worse, thinking you’re being paranoid, or knowing you should be?


Has anyone ever used the name lure on you?


Daily updates straight to your inbox.


Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
Sign up for daily updates


Daily updates straight to your inbox.

Copyright ©2020 HELLO, my name is Blog!