Online phone book has very personal information – check your info!

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Online sites with your personal information

online sites collecting personal information

I received an email from someone I know tonight {in law enforcement}, and it mentioned a new online phone book – Spokeo – that has way too much personal information about people. Sure, if anyone wants your info that bad, they can find most of it, at least a name, date of birth and possibly a phone number. But usually on the “search” sites, you have to pay extra to find out other details of a person. This is true of Spokeo too, but they offer quite a bit of personal information for free.

Searching my name was very quick, I didn’t have to look too far. In searching my name, there was information on the city I live in, my marital status, my family information {luckily there isn’t much there, but there might be for other people}, it shows a Google earth map of my house, and the value of my house. If anyone was searching for me, they would only have to pay about $2.99 a month, and they would be able to see my photos, the social networks I belong to, my wealth and other private information.

According to the Privacy Policy on Spokeo, this is all information that anyone can get from the internet. They gather this info from social networks and other public records and conveniently compile it in one place. I do not like that one bit.

I am not going to link them, but you can go to www.Spokeo.com and search your name and you will see what I mean.

Here is the email I received, with information on how to remove your information:

There’s a site called spokeo.com that’s a new online USA phone book
w/personal information: everything from pics you’ve posted on FB or web,
your approx credit score, home value, income, age. Remove yourself by
searching your name, find the URL of your page, then go to the bottom
right corner of the page and click on the Privacy button to remove
yourself. Copy & re-post so your FB friends are aware. They appear to
be now collecting e-mail addresses as they will only let you delete 2
entries per e-mail address. I recommend you create a gmail.com or
hotmail.net address just for their verification process so they do not
have your real e-mail address.

Here are some screenshots I took to show you what I found about myself {with my info blocked out}:

how to keep my information private online

Oh – as I was editing this screenshot, I noticed it has my cell phone number on it!  Luckily it is an old one, but I rarely gave that number out!  Plain as day for everyone to see.    It also says “email Jennifer”.  I have no idea what happens when that is clicked on, or if that is only available on the paid service.

removing-your-name-from-Spokeo

Here is the Google Earth view of my house – it can be zoomed in.  Granted anyone can find this, if they already have my address, but to just put all of my info out there in one place?  This showed the exact value of my house, the exact square footage, lot size, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

What personal information does Spokeo show

When you click on “Privacy” to remove your information, you will be brought to a page that will have a spot for your Spokeo URL and your email address – remember, you might want to use a secondary email address, not your main one.

Your URL {you will see it in the address bar when you click on your name} will look something like this:
http://www.spokeo.com/search?q=YourFirstName%20YourLastName#City/Area:########/info

There is also another company {a paid service} mentioned on there, but in searching them, I am not pleased with what I found. You can do a Google Search to find out more about them. Hint: Anytime I am checking up on an online company that I am not sure about, I Google their name and the word “scam” after it. At this time, I only removed myself from Spokeo. As mentioned in the above email, use a secondary email address. They will send you a confirmation email, you click on the link, and it should bring you to a page that says you have been removed.

how do I remove my name from Spokeo

It is entirely up to you if you choose to do this or not, but I know I don’t want just anyone having all of that info, seeing my photos, etc. I have set most of my social network info to private for this very reason!

Another site you may want to check out is Zabasearch. By searching my name on there, it shows my husbands name, my mother and father, and my brother. It also shows the cities of my present home, and the last home we lived in. I am not sure what all is included if you pay for a full report, but that alone is too much info. I looked into opting out of this site, but they want you to fax a copy of your ID Card, Driver’s licence, etc. {you can “x” the number out}. But they do need to see a name, address and date of birth. Are they kidding?

You can check Snopes to learn more {this is direct link to page about Spokeo}.

**Note:   I realize personal information is available online, and this post is not meant to condemn the above mentioned websites.  I do feel that my readers are entitled to know about them, and how to opt out if they so choose.

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About Author

Jennifer Regan is the owner/editor-in-chief of Eighty MPH Mom, a family-friendly blog. She is active in Brand Ambassadorships and campaigns, and is active in social media, helping brands promote!

27 Comments

  1. A few months back I saw about Spokeo and removed Mat’s information {nothing about me was on there though I keep checking}. There was also info on my sister that I found so I emailed her right away. That info should not be shared without consent first imho.

  2. Very scary! I just checked and thank goodness there was nothing on me I guess I am not that important LOL

    Thank-you for posting this very important information!

  3. I heard about that last year and took my whole family off. I checked now and we’re all still off of it so the privacy control does work. Some of the info was erroneous but some was scarily accurate.

    • Jennifer-admin on

      It really is scary! I checked my kids names and they aren’t on there, but my husband and I have both removed ourselves.

  4. Spokeo merely aggregates its info from a ton of different sources. If you are listed in the phone book in your area, your information is already accessible online (phone number, address, etc). In addition, if you have ever entered any personal info for your email, Facebook, Twitter accounts, that’s easily accessible, too, online. Public Records are also available at your city hall (and quite often online, depending on where you live) and these include all of your property info, etc. It’s PUBLICLY available.

    With the Internet growing quickly and information becoming easily accessible, I hope that everyone who is shocked about this understands that if Spokeo is reporting anything under their names, it has accessed that info from other sites…it’s not this new monster that was just released…it’s just a smarter “search engine” that has pulled all of your accessible info from other sites on the Internet.

    Do not feel like that your info is “safe” by merely removing yourself from the Spokeo listing…you need to search all over the Internet to see where else you show up as well! Do no enter your address, phone number, or any other private info into online forms if you don’t want it disclosed or post any photos on the Internet…it’s sad to say, but it’s too easy to access everything you put online now, no matter how private you try to keep your info.

    • Jennifer-admin on

      Exactly – I mentioned that all of this info is available online, but to see it all compiled in one easy place is disturbing to me (and I know there are more sites like this out there). I do feel better removing myself from here, and I hope others do too.

      • I definitely appreciate your post on this (so, please don’t get me wrong, in any sense!). 🙂 I think everyone needs to make sure that they understand that once they put their info out there on the Internet, there is a good chance that people will get their hands on it!

        So, thank you for posting this! It’s important for everyone to keep their minds on.

        • Jennifer-admin on

          I absolutely agree with everything you said…no worries! Yep – the minute you put that info out there, it is going to end up somewhere we don’t necessarily intend it to be.

  5. Thanks for the heads up, Speedy. I removed myself and {thanks to Erin’s suggestion} I’ll be checking on my maiden name as well. Information is everywhere but it’s up to each person to guard themselves. Being proactive is the key! 🙂

    • Jennifer-admin on

      You are most welcome! I just figure as we come upon these sites, it’s best to remove ourselves. The less places we appear, the better! I need to go check my maiden name now – thanks for reminding me!

  6. Oh my. I found 10 people with the same name as me or people who have stolen my identity? lol hope not. Anyway I don’t come up, that’s amazing.

  7. I get the home info search Zllow and you can find home info on any address. The internet is a very open place. There’s so much info we are giving out. Sites like this just show how scary it can be.

  8. I did not come up when posting my name. Neither does my husband. Which is surprising because my name is in my email and twitter. However, when I posted my email, pics I have on picasa showed up. Along with some wrong info. However, my friend came up with specific correct information. As much as I know this info is out there.. to have it so easy to access is quite disturbing. My parents also came up quickly. Thanks for the heads up.

  9. Wow. That is an interesting website. I’m one of those people that doesn’t worry much about that stuff, and thankfully most of the information on that website for myself and my husband is incorrect. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Angela L.

  10. tricia douglas on

    I read on another site that sites like Spokeo WANT you to delete your info as then they know its valid info and while its deleted as you asked, Its sold along with the email you had to use to delete your info

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