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Thread started 08 Jan 2011 (Saturday) 01:43
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Assuming you value your privacy... please read.

 
jwcdds
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Jan 08, 2011 01:43 |  #1

Please be sure to read the entire post before deciding to take any action at the website mentioned below.

There's a new (new to me) website that's on the internet now that crawls the internet to gather/collect information. I'm sure there are others out there, and like them, if you pay a "nominal" fee, you can access "more" information. The problem is... you may not need to pay for anything to gather more information than you would be comfortable releasing to the world.

The website is spokeo.com. It's calling itself "Not your grandma's phonebook." When a FB friend brought this site to my attention, I was curious and typed in my own name. Easily navigating through the links (breaking it down by State, City...) I found that I was indeed listed twice: once at my parents' residence, and also at my current residence. What's more discouraging and disturbing to find was that it had my entire family listed (name of my parents, siblings), the phone number, that my family had been in that location for X-number of years... property value, link to your google-photo of the house, etc...

It's the perfect site for identity thieves to shop for a new persona. Now I realize posting this here may be a catch-22... leading potential crooks to go identity shopping. But the website is already there, and those who plan to do ill probably already know it by now. So by bringing this to your attention, hopefully, some of you (who may or may not be listed, yet) can get your listing removed.

The website claims that it simply gathers information that's already available. Well, that's fine. I'm sure they can hide behind the legal mumble jumble and it simply means those with the technological savvy can still get whatever info they want on you. However, this type of website offers the small-time crooks a very powerful tool.

Take this post for what it's worth. If you believe me, do your own search and you might be surprise who you find: a sibling, a best friend, an old high-school crush, even your worst enemy? But if you can find them, they likely can find you too (as soon as this website's spiders/crawlers are done gathering your data). If you don't believe me, then continue on and forget you saw this post.

In case you do find yourself listed there, to remove your listing, you need to click on the listing itself, then copy the URL address, on the bottom of the spokeo page, you'll see a "privacy" link. Click on it and at the bottom, you can request to remove your listing.

You'll need to feed them an e-mail (which I was hesitant but fed them my old, trash mail account) and then I had to click on the e-mail sent to me by spokeo to finalize the removal.

My intent is not to spam. Just trying to help folks on POTN protect/guard what little privacy they have left. And maybe by word-of-mouth, you guys can protect your family and friends.

** reason for editing **

I was just given another link from an acquaintance on the matter and it's possible spokeo's end-goal is to collect e-mail addresses. So if possible, create some junk-email to do this so avoid being spammed.

Link I was given: http://www.snopes.com/​computer/internet/spok​eo.aspexternal link

** end edit **


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keyframe14
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Jan 08, 2011 01:57 |  #2

I think I read about this two years ago and I was pissed when I didn't find myself in there:)
Not sure how someone can steal your identity with the info listed there, They would need much more than that. But I think is good for anyone to have them remove from that database.


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jwcdds
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Jan 08, 2011 02:39 |  #3

I don't think they can outright steal your identity just through sites like spokeo. But in case they needed more pieces to the puzzle. Found/stole a credit card number but no billing address/info? Etc...

But again, need to be careful as it might be a way to just gather e-mails. However, by the amount of cialis/viagra e-mails I get on a weekly basis, apparently the pharmaceutical companies know something about me that I don't know.  :p :lol:


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birdfromboat
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Jan 09, 2011 00:29 |  #4

there are lots of "reverse phonebooks" out there. Some charge you to access, some will let you in if you sell out a few friends. All you need is an email address or a phone number and if the person is listed you can get name and address.

Thinking of confusing the issue and selling my self out to these sites when I see them, except giving them my real email but my name as "pinhead, zippy the" with the local police station for my home address.


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x_tan
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Jan 09, 2011 02:40 as a reply to birdfromboat's post |  #5

Thank you!

Nothing for me :D

That is another reason that I never post my family member photos in the internet, even POTN, sorry :o


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bulldogg7
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Jan 09, 2011 17:32 |  #6

http://www.snopes.com/​computer/internet/spok​eo.aspexternal link

The information returned to paying customers through Spokeo searches is not very detailed and is often inaccurate.
...Our repeated attempts to request the blocking of a particular record throu...gh Spokeo's privacy page have found the procedure to be highly questionable: no attempt is made to verify that the person requesting the blocking of a record is the person identified by that record, our efforts have never resulted in a successfully blocked record, and Spokeo's customer service group did not respond to any of our inquiries.
Attempts to initiate record blocking are frequently met with error messages claiming that the provided e-mail address is invalid or that "in order to prevent abuse, we must limit the frequency of privacy requests."
All of this has led some to speculate that one of Spokeo's core businesses is actually collecting of e-mail addresses or pushing sales of privacy services.

You have to give them your email address to "get taken off the list", you will still be in their database but they will have updated info, and possibly your contacts list to send spam mail to. If you register with them, it is a Monthly revolving fee, not just a one time thing, their info is not accurate, you won't find anything for that $40 a year that you couldn't find with google. But enjoy the spam and the hatemail from your friends when they get spam coming from your email address.



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jwcdds
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Jan 09, 2011 19:13 |  #7

I was able to remove my 2 listings and so far, haven't received any spam on my trash mail account.

Like I said... proceed at your own risk. But if you have a junk mail account that you don't use to mail friends and family... doubtful that my friends/family would get spammed from me.


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SkedAddled
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Jan 09, 2011 20:25 |  #8

Snopes.com wrote:
The information returned to paying customers through Spokeo searches is not very detailed and is often inaccurate.

Not just paying members! I just looked up myself. Information for income, family members and other stuff is grossly inaccurate, and some address information is over 10 years out of date. I suspect this site is indeed a harvesting site in the guise of something else, put up simply to gather personal contact information for purposes of direct marketing. It's all obviously harvested from automated web crawlers, and likely with no staff on hand to attempt verification/accuracy of the information found.

I fell victim to something similar when I responded to what turned out to be a fraudulent job listing. Within minutes of my submittal, I was inundated with spam and telephone calls, and junk postal mail started flowing within just a few days. The spam I simply processed and reported via SpamCop, and reported the fraud to the FTC. Any postal mail with a phone number I called, politely explained that I wasn't interested, and told them that they were likely suckered by the fraudsters as well, with a brief explanation of how they most likely received my information. Most have been very surprised, if not seemingly angry, at being conned into purchasing mailing information from supposedly "opt-in" list sources. The spam has slowed to a mere trickle, the phone calls stopped almost immediately, and the postal junk goes away more with each call I place.

A similar situation suckered Adorama some time ago, though by an even shadier outfit than the criminals that duped me, and with absolutely no previous direct contact with me in any way. I got their turds in my inbox, sounded an alarm, and was later notified by Adorama that they had agreed to a trial of services, but never finalized the terms of the agreement. In essence, the criminals were giving Adorama a bad rep by spamming on their behalf on a contract which had not been signed.

Approach anything and everything like Spokeo with a huge grain of salt and a raging dose of skepticism.


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Manix90
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Jan 10, 2011 14:57 |  #9

keyframe14 wrote in post #11596874external link
I think I read about this two years ago and I was pissed when I didn't find myself in there:)
Not sure how someone can steal your identity with the info listed there, They would need much more than that. But I think is good for anyone to have them remove from that database.

I was once fined originally £20 because someone used my address, and DOB when caught on a train without a ticket.
I refused to pay and the fine grew, I was abroad when I was called to caught to give a statement and found guilty in my absence, the fine rose to over £500 and bailiffs went to my home address, my mother answered in tears and they gave us a day to sort it. Luckily It was all cleared out but it just goes to show.
The fact that I had been on the other side of the country to where the fraud had been reported and the description being way off was what saved me.

A name, address and DOB can go a long way.


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keyframe14
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Jan 10, 2011 15:12 |  #10

Manix90 wrote in post #11612159external link
I was once fined originally £20 because someone used my address, and DOB when caught on a train without a ticket.
I refused to pay and the fine grew, I was abroad when I was called to caught to give a statement and found guilty in my absence, the fine rose to over £500 and bailiffs went to my home address, my mother answered in tears and they gave us a day to sort it. Luckily It was all cleared out but it just goes to show.
The fact that I had been on the other side of the country to where the fraud had been reported and the description being way off was what saved me.

A name, address and DOB can go a long way.

But see that's the controller fault, he can't believe whatever that person say he is without asking for an ID. I meant how stupid can they be not to think that the first reaction from a person caught into a situation like this is to lie.
Many are scared here that people would open credit card in their name etc. while those things you cannot do with a name address and phone no.. you'll need much more than that.


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DetlevCM
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Jan 11, 2011 20:49 |  #11

I just tried 2 names - absolutely zero.

I actually wonder if this is legal - in a way the information is "out there" on the other hand, if you decided on an unlisted phone number, then your name is not available in any publicly accessible place (at least coupled with your Address etc.)

Regarding normal websites - it should not be possible to obtain your address from the web - if it is, either someone has been negligent (online retailer) or you might need to reconsider your web exposure - difficult as a business, as a private individual - give it a good think.


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DetlevCM
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Jan 11, 2011 20:53 |  #12

Manix90 wrote in post #11612159external link
I was once fined originally £20 because someone used my address, and DOB when caught on a train without a ticket.
I refused to pay and the fine grew, I was abroad when I was called to caught to give a statement and found guilty in my absence, the fine rose to over £500 and bailiffs went to my home address, my mother answered in tears and they gave us a day to sort it. Luckily It was all cleared out but it just goes to show.
The fact that I had been on the other side of the country to where the fraud had been reported and the description being way off was what saved me.

A name, address and DOB can go a long way.

To be honest though, these are exactly the kind of information most easily obtained.
Your address is known to friends and retailers - as is your name.
Your birthday is known to colleagues and friends...

Someone will talk and it will end in the wrong hands - personally I don't view my name and date of birth as "classified" information, although I'd rather post it on my own website than "rubbishbook" or similar.
If a country has no means of identifying people via a standard document then maybe there is something that need to be rethought. (on that note - electronic identification does not equal better security... I had to apply for a passport recently, my ID card ran out... -> this means the government just gave people a better way of stealing my identity... great... (the rdif chip) - I liked my old paper ID :()


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marubozo
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Jan 12, 2011 14:16 |  #13

I know it may be different in Europe, but here in the states there's so much personal information out there that's public record that anybody can get a ton of information about you without sites leaking or stealing information. In fact, many states/counties now even have their public records database online and searchable.

I can pull up my county's site and punch in my name and it lists my current address, the houses I've bought over the years, how much I paid for them, who my mortgage is with, my property tax information, any sort of delinquency or foreclosure notices, business names registered, land I own, or anything like that.

If I want to know who lives in a specific house down the road I can just jot down the address and come back and punch it into the site and find out who lives there and all of the rest of that kind of data as well.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Unless you live completely off the grid there's almost no way around having most of your personal identifiable information out there and legally searchable through public records. Obviously, some sites like to harvest this information and put it all in one place and make it even easier to find, but anybody who knows what they are doing won't even need sites like that to get the info they want.


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Jannie
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Jan 13, 2011 09:38 |  #14

I'm not listed but I checked to see if many of my friends were. Those who were, the info was very inaccurate.


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Roy_W
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Jan 13, 2011 11:02 as a reply to Jannie's post |  #15

Please do not visit these kinds of websites using other peoples/friends names.
All you are doing is feeding their database with new names to go hunting for.

Think about it, you are typing it in new names that their search engine may not have looked for/trawled for yet. It's like feeding a spam engine with your address book.....


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