Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spokeo

So a friend of mine posted this on Facebook today:
There's a site called Spokeo.com that's a new online USA phone book w/personal info from pics on FB or web, your approx credit score, home value, income, age, etc. You can remove yourself by first searching for yourself. Then click on your name and copy the URL. Go back to the main page and scroll to the bottom and click on the Privacy button to remove yourself.   This is real checked it out myself.
 I went to the site, searched myself, and sure enough, there I am.  You can search by name or by email address.  I found a lot more about myself when I searched by name; you might have to try different variations of your name, like with and without your middle initial, for example.  But it's there:  cell phone number, facebook, map to my house, address, everything.  The pictures they had of me weren't me, and I don't know where they came from, so their information is sketchy, but it's still too much.  
I ran Snopes on the site and their assessment is that it's a data mining site and that once you actually give them your email, which you have to do to remove your name, you've confirmed your email address and they can sell it.  By that point I'd already removed my name from Spokeo.  I went back to Spokeo to see if my name was still there, and it isn't.
I'm not sure if I did the right thing by deleting myself or not.  Snopes says it's like Wack a Mole - it'll pop up somewhere else. Probably true.  We live in a scary time, folks!

11 comments:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

wow, this really is scary

Andy said...

Well, I'll be! I'm in there, too. And, they've got a picture of my house, and the names of some of my kids.

Wow.

yukio ngaby said...

You know what's cool?

I'm not in there and neither is my wife. LOL.

Red said...

Thanks for the heads up. Luckily I'm not on there.

Steve said...

There's a picture of my old house in little ole Bossier City. When people look at that picture they will see a police car parked in front and will know "the cops are at his house because he's a badass"; or "we don't need to bother with him, he has nothing of value because he's a cop."

Chris Wysocki said...

How did you guys see the pics? Did you pay the 3 bucks? 'Cause I'm thinking it's all a scam to get us to cough up 3 bucks.

Pat Austin said...

Oh no no no! If you click on some of those tabs you can see pics but not with everyone. And oddly, I only saw my pics when I used my phone browser, not my desktop. Hell, they already had my cell number so ...

Fuzzy Slippers said...

While the information was horrifying to see, it wasn't accurate. They had my old phone number (from about 10 years ago) and who knows what they base their income calculations on, but that was completely off-base, too. I didn't pay the money to see the full report, but there was enough on there to be alarming, even if it was largely old and/or inaccurate information.

Andy said...

Chris, when I clicked on one of the tabs, it gave me the shot of my house from Google Earth Street View (I think that's what it's called).

No cop car in front, though. We were behaving for a change when the Google folks drove by, I reckon.

Laurence L. said...

Read this (see url), David Emery's Urban Legends Blog, kinda cool blog...Urban Legends is always fun and usually helpful info wise. Almost mirrors some of your post comments, Pat. The site reminds me of some sites I have used for skip tracing. Seems the 'don't reply to spam email' rule might apply here too. Phone numbers, listed or unlisted, can be found pretty easily.

Sample quotes:
"...simply removing your search results from Spokeo.com doesn't prevent anyone from accessing the data by other means."

"To protect your personal data on social networking services, you must either refrain from providing it to sites like MySpace and Facebook in the first place, or adjust your privacy settings on each website accordingly."

http://urbanlegends.about.com/b/2010/04/07/spokeo-com-scam.htm

Laurence L. said...

Spokeo has a fairly reputable history; as an "aggregate search engine" software it compiles online data available in a variety of public sources. First launched on TechChrunch in 2005. Go to the spokeo web site and check the About page for the history.

It's kind of like the The Official White Pages, Peoplesearch, Radaris, Peoplesmart, Peoplefinders, there's a few more. Then you get to the subscription services, for secured verifiable info like background checks and credit and DPS reports.

All these sites compile info that you can find on your own via internet if you know how...trade secrets. :)