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Old 03-28-2010, 02:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
Eat your vegetables
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Spokeo & Internet Privacy

A friend recently pointed out a new kind of internet-based phone book. At present, it seems to be flawed, and lacking any real merit. But it seems to have some big-brother potential.

Have you tried to find yourself at Spokeo?
Do you know of other websites with a similar premise?
How do you feel about your information being available in this format?
Do you view it as a positive way to find information on a potential employee?
Or perhaps you use it as a double-check to make usre that you have your information secure from such sources?
What lengths do you go to secure your identity?
"Sometimes I have to remember that things are brought to me for a reason, either for my own lessons or for the benefit of others." Cynthetiq

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Old 03-28-2010, 03:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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That is kind of creepy. It's flawed but creepy. It got all my basic information wrong except sex. It seems everyone enjoys shopping...

I dunno, There's not any one thing on there that bothers me. I mean just meeting me in my home town you could pretty much gather 90% of that info. Hell, most people that know an ounce of astrology can tell me my sign which this website got wrong.
“It is better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick” - Dave Barry
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Manhattan, NY
Since I am trying to reach living relatives for a family tree project, this kind of website is nothing new.

Spock and Intellus give far more accurate information AND connect you to relatives and potentials. All of this information is readily available via old databases. There recently were some very good articles in the NY Times that spelled out exactly what was going on and how to try to combat it. I say try because in most cases there is little you can do.

March 24, 2010
Going Beyond Google to Find a Lost Friend


When I was 6 years old, I lost one of my best friends.
Because of religious prejudices that neither of us understood, we were forbidden to play with each other. I never spoke to Russell again until a chance meeting at a trade show 25 years ago.

Last month, I wondered if I could find him.

Having no idea where he lived made the job even more difficult. No phone numbers or addresses were listed on various Internet directories. Because he had an uncommon last name, I was able to find what I thought could be his brother’s address in Staten Island. It was.

A few minutes later the phone rang, and Russell and I were reminiscing about our lives in late-1950s Queens. (Despite our pleasure at reconnecting, he preferred not to have his last name mentioned for this article.)

In the Internet era, finding a long-lost friend is relatively easy. But what happens when you want to find someone who flies under the digital radar, a low-key individual who leaves few traces to his or her existence on the Web?

Once only high-priced private investigators had the time and resources necessary to find those kinds of people, but if you understand the best strategies to substitute mouse clicks for shoe leather, the Internet makes the task fast, simple and often no-cost.


“First, ask yourself what you know about someone,” said David Sarokin, a federal government worker who, in his spare time, has extensively studied the best ways to find people online. (Many of his tips can be found on the eHow.com Web site.)

Enter the person’s name in Google or another search engine, and use quotes to surround the first and last name; that way, the entire name is searched. If the person is in a phone book, often the phone entry will pop up as the first Google listing.

The task is easier if you’re looking for someone with a unique name; trying to find the Joe Smith with whom you attended high school 40 years ago is likely to be much more difficult than locating a first-grade pal named Joop Van Heineken.

Conversely, said Jim Adler, the chief privacy officer for Intelius, an online data firm, “If your name is Tom Cruise, you’ll be unfindable on the Web — unless you’re the famous Tom Cruise.”


Search not just on names, but last-known places the person has lived. Do you know your friend’s profession? Enter names of professional journals for which he or she may have written. If you have an idea of a possible workplace, or a spouse’s name, search for those as well.

In addition to standard search engines, try affinity and social networking sites where your friend may have registered, like Classmates.com, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn.

Jigsaw.com claims a database of 20 million business contacts worldwide, with addresses, titles, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Two basic searches are included when registering, and more contact information is available on a pay-per-use or subscription basis. One contact costs $5, while subscriptions range in price from $25 a month to $1,000 a year.
If the person you’re looking for is politically active, the Federal Election Commission’s Web site (fec.gov) lists the addresses, ZIP codes and occasionally even the occupations of those who have given $250 or more to a national campaign.

Criminalsearches.com lists criminal and traffic violation charges for no fee. While the amount of information you receive free is limited, the date of the court action could indicate that the person is still alive. You could also try a sex offenders database that many states have online. In addition to the offense, photographs and home addresses of the individual are often listed.

Many of the search tips are only operative if you know an individual’s last name. Women who change their last names upon marriage can easily fall under the radar. (If you want to be found by long-lost friends, add your last name to your social network listing.) Intelius will begin adding maiden names to its database this year, gleaned from public records.
Mr. Sarokin also recommends perusing wedding notices on the Web sites of major newspapers. Not only will you get a geographical hint but, if you’re looking for a woman, you’ll be able to see what her married name might be.

Many Web sites offer limited personal information free, like confirmation of an individual’s name, age, location and family members. To encourage you to pay, you’re enticed with the prospect of juicier information for a one-time or subscription fee.
Is it worth it to pay for personal information? “The pay sites are mostly unnecessary,” said Mr. Sarokin. “A lot of them are bogus and unreliable.”

But even those that are legitimate, like Intelius.com and PeopleFinders.com, may disappoint. To get the most out of them, read their promises carefully. Private online databases typically don’t generate their own information, but rather aggregate public databases, combining home-purchase information, salary, marriages and divorces, traffic violations, relatives’ names and liens, judgments and bankruptcies.
Many say that they guarantee certain information, but that promise often adds qualifiers like “information included when available.”

The best sites use various algorithms to sort through data, eliminating errors and duplications. But mistakes are inevitable.

After searching through the database of Intelius, one of the largest providers of personal information, with 10 million paid customer accounts, I found that the listing for one relative included an address where she had never lived, listed a deceased member of her family as alive and had no record of her marriage.

If you don’t like the information you receive, demand your money back. The best sites offer refunds if a customer is not satisfied, but that fact is often buried deep within the site. Also, at some people search sites, like Mylife.com, you must sign up for an automatically renewing subscription.

If you can’t find any current information about an individual there may be a simple reason: he or she may be dead.

To find out if that’s the case, several sites including Rootsweb.com and Tributes.com offer free access to the Social Security Death Index, a listing of more than 85 million deaths in the United States. Legacy.com also adds a database of published obituaries from hundreds of American newspapers.

The Web is also used to harass and even stalk former lovers or the rich and famous. If someone doesn’t want to make contact with you, drop it and move on.

If you want to shield yourself from prying eyes, many sites let you remove information; click on their “privacy” links to find out how.

But if this information resides on public or commercial databases, it’s likely to pop up on other Web sites. The best way to stay unfound is to keep your name out of public records, as movie stars do.

That’s why I’m not going to be meeting Will Smith any time soon. Even though I know what town he lives in, a $40 search did not turn up his address.
I don't care if you are black, white, purple, green, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, hippie, cop, bum, admin, user, English, Irish, French, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, indian, cowboy, tall, short, fat, skinny, emo, punk, mod, rocker, straight, gay, lesbian, jock, nerd, geek, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist, either you're an asshole or you're not.

Last edited by Cynthetiq; 03-28-2010 at 05:08 AM..
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Old 03-28-2010, 06:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: Oregon
Other sites that do the same thing have more accurate information on me. It put me in my parents' house, and knew their names as well as my brother's name. The profile was horribly inaccurate though:

Age: early 50's
Gender: Female
Ethnicity: Caucasian
Zodiac: Leo
Relationship: Married
Children: Yes
Occupation: Clerical/Service Worker
Education: Some College
Hobbies: unknown
Home Owner: Yes
Residence: Single Family House
Length of Residence: 1 years
Est. Home Value: $1M+
Neighborhood: Middle Class
I think they might have me confused with my mother. It also claims that I am not interested in politics, which I find hilarious as my parents' home has a large fence on the roadside that they plaster with signs every election year .

Given how inaccurate it is, I don't really feel that it is an invasion of my privacy, nor would I use it to look up information on an employee.
If I am not better, at least I am different. --Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Last edited by snowy; 03-28-2010 at 06:20 AM..
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Old 03-28-2010, 06:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: S.E. PA in U Sofa
There's a lot of information about most of us in publically available databases so from what I see, Spokeo and some others are just trying to capitalize on it. It's just another example of somebody trying to make money by luring people to spend more, showing free but limited, flawed publically available information, but you have to pay to get more. They don't have a unique backdoor to some secret info.

They have two profiles for me, one at my ex-wife's place...which is NOT worth $1 million+, and where they say I'm Hispanic; the other at my home address but with wrong or silly data.
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Old 03-28-2010, 06:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: With All Your Base
Whoa. I've got kids? SOME college? I have two degrees and I'm working on the third!

I've supressed a lot of my information on the internet, but I'm learning that as I continue in school, some of it is just going to come out because of my membership in several large organizations. I'm not sure about this whole credit score and wealth thing, but if the basic information was that wrong, I'm not all that concerned. Luckily, since this residence is not in my name, it still has me at my old address.
Here's how life works: you either get to ask for an apology or you get to shoot people. Not both. House

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Just realize that you're armed with smart but heavily outnumbered.
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The only thing that site had right about me was my name, that's it.
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Location: Cake Town
It only found my cousin from Brooklyn who has the same first and last names as I do. A bunch of information is wrong though. For example, it says he has no kids. He's got two.
Maturity is knowing you were an idiot in the past. Wisdom is knowing that you'll be an idiot in the future. Common sense is knowing that you should try not to be an idiot now. - J. Jacques
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:28 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Location: In the land of ice and snow.
They didn't have anything on me.
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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It might be grossly inaccurate now, but it seems to me it might be one of those things that becomes more and more accurate as time (and data) carry on.

Isn't that what you're supposed to do with an ongoing collection of aggregate data?

Remove your data here: Spokeo | Remove a Listing

Do it before they post your DNA.
Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?
—Bhikkhuni Pema Chödrön

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:02 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Location: Seattle, WA
They can't prove I killed that hooker. I think.
I wonder if we're stuck in Rome.
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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There are dozens of sites that will do the same as spokeo, many of them eventually will point you back to Intellius; zabasearch, pipl are two pretty good ones. I'm presently trying to find classmates for a reunion. Some people just are invisible on the internet. Women are more difficult to find once they get married.

:edit: should have been INvisible

Last edited by Craven Morehead; 03-30-2010 at 05:37 AM..
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
With a mustache, the cool factor would be too much
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Location: left side of my couch, East Texas
I suddenly have two kids and $150,000 more in annual income.

I hope the mother of my kids doesn't find out about my extra money.

I think I'll name my kids "World's Prince" and "World's Princess" just to deny World's King. ;-P


Seriously, they got some data correct, but the majority was a joke.
Anyway, I don't have any thing to be guilty about that I need to hide.
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:57 PM   #14 (permalink)
Getting it.
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Location: Lion City
They can't find me because I don't live in the US...
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Old 03-29-2010, 06:59 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Baraka_Guru View Post
It might be grossly inaccurate now, but it seems to me it might be one of those things that becomes more and more accurate as time (and data) carry on.

Isn't that what you're supposed to do with an ongoing collection of aggregate data?

Remove your data here: Spokeo | Remove a Listing

Do it before they post your DNA.

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Old 03-29-2010, 11:50 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Location: Chicago
Oddly, I'm actually more bothered when the information is wrong than when it's right. I don't want a potential business contact looking me up and thinking I only have "some college," for example.
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Old 03-30-2010, 03:46 AM   #17 (permalink)
warrior bodhisattva
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Originally Posted by SecretMethod70 View Post
Oddly, I'm actually more bothered when the information is wrong than when it's right. I don't want a potential business contact looking me up and thinking I only have "some college," for example.
Well, if it says "some college," but your home is worth $2.5 million, they might think you're another Bill Gates....
Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?
—Bhikkhuni Pema Chödrön

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:38 AM   #18 (permalink)
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After a few days of using Spokeo, I'm very impressed. Its the best interface of any site I've encountered. Although, pipl runs a close second. I do like pipl's phone search better, however.
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:29 AM   #19 (permalink)
...is a comical chap
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Location: Where morons reign supreme
I go by my middle name, so I ran a search on both my first and middle name. There was more info for my second name, and inaccurate info on both. Neither my first or middle name are common and my last name is very uncommon; I was shocked to find there is another person with my first and last name here in the US.

This website creeps me out, but it doesn't surprise me.
"They say that patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings; steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king"

Formerly Medusa
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:30 AM   #20 (permalink)
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doesnt work very well for non americans. found a few people i know though.

CIA/FBI/MI5 etc etc etc = facebook/spokeo/pipl etc etc etc
An injustice anywhere, is an injustice everywhere

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internet, privacy, spokeo

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