Sunday, April 11, 2010

How exposed are you on the internet?

I just read a disturbing post over on Gray Matter about one of the many Web sites containing oodles of personal information for the taking. This is how Spokeo.com describes its site:

Spokeo is a search engine specialized in organizing people-related information from phone books, social networks, marketing lists, business sites, and other public sources. Most of this data is publicly available on the Web. For example, you can find people’s name, phone, and address on Whitepages.com, and you can get home values from Zillow.com. That said, only Spokeo’s algorithm can piece together the scattered data into coherent people profiles, giving you the most comprehensive intelligence about anyone you want to find.

I entered my name and Mike's name on the site, and we must be doing something right, because it came up empty on us. But when I searched the names of my family members and a few friends, I saw their phone numbers, addresses, internet shopping preferences, education, etc. If you purchase a subscription, you can even see a person's credit history, salary, and photos and videos. Scary! Cleary, some of the information is off...because it estimates just about every person's home value to be $1 million plus. And it claimed my brother-in-law is in his 90s!

But I advise each one of you to enter your name and decide if you really want this kind of information to be public. Here's how to block your information from being posted on this site:

1. Go to spokeo.com.
2. Type your first and last name in the search bar at the top of the page.
3. Locate your profile and click on it (the names are separated by state).
4. When your profile appears, copy the URL from your browser address bar.
5. Scroll down to the very bottom of the screen and locate “PRIVACY” in the bottom right corner, and click on it.
6. Paste the copied URL in the text box.
7. Enter your e-mail (you’ll receive a notification e-mail with further instructions).
8. Enter the captcha code displayed to the right of the text box.
9. Click the “REMOVE LISTING” command button.
10. Go to your e-mail and follow the instructions to confirm deletion.

While you're at it, check out these further tips to protect your privacy while searching on the internet (so people won't be able to know what you are purchasing or searching online) and more information about protecting your personal information.

Please pass this info along!

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating. They got a lot of the information wrong, including a picture that is clearly not me. But enough is right to be spooky. Thanks for the tip.

    ReplyDelete

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