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Poll: Are you concerned about sites like Spokeo.com?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 19, 2010 7:58 AM PST
How concerned are you that sites like Spokeo.com makes your public records that easy find?

-- Super paranoid. (Tell us why?)
-- Very concerned. (Tell us why?)
-- Somewhat concerned (Tell us why?)
-- Not concerned at all, they're public. (Tell us why?)

Discuss your concerns or disconcerns.
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Not concerned at all, they're public like my find:
by Darrell / November 19, 2010 8:19 AM PST

There was my first love of loves who I haven't heard from her, her spouse or her son.
She was a CNA, like I was, but she is now a RN! Some of her information was lacking like her Ethnicity, her DOB, age was an approximation. She still resides in East Naples, FL for at 5 years. Sh may have lost my tel no. Having gone back to college. If I can afford www spokeo.com, I may find address, so I can write to her. Darrell

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Inaccurate and benign
by msecour / November 19, 2010 10:03 AM PST

I couldn't find any information about me at this site that would compromise my sense of security, although they did get my political party wrong. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

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by CandaceTi / November 19, 2010 10:47 AM PST
In reply to: Inaccurate and benign

I guess if anyone was really that interested in wanting that much info they could probably get one way or another. I don't really understand why someone would want to know all that much about me anyway. So msecour I have to agree with you and more power to us!

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A bit concerned
by ESUNintel / November 19, 2010 12:00 PM PST

I am a bit concerned it's possible to find info about me and others online. At the same time I see it as a benefit, after all, I am in the IT/BI industry, so from a data mining perspective it's great we have access to such information.

...and for some odd reason I couldn't find myself at Spokeo.com - I guess I must not exist, or maybe it's Credit Lock that makes it seem as if I don't exist.

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Stalkers and Abusers!
by LeeB / November 19, 2010 12:18 PM PST

Just because some personal information is 'public record' does not mean it should be this easily found by just anybody. In Washington State, a person can register with the Attorney General's office to reduce access to such 'public record' information. This includes residential addresses that must be on a drivers license or voter registration, for instance. It does not, however, include protection of that same information held by public utilities, such as the power company or water service to one's home. I have personal experience with my address being published on these nasty sites because it was picked up in a sweep of telephone company directories after the phone company published my addressed after being told not to. They made a careless mistake so I had to move!

There used to be some comfort in knowing that one's address could not fall into dangerous hands - that it would take months and possibly a private detective to find - obstacles that used to provide a measure of safety in themselves. This kind of outrageous publication of personal information can endanger the lives of victims of domestic violence.

If anyone here has ever been faced with being forced to suddenly relocate in order to outwit or outrun one of these monsters, they might not think this is such a minor matter. America is supposed to be a 'free country' . . . part of that freedom is being able to live one's life in peace. This kind of unauthorized publication is an enormous intrusion and should not be tolerated. If these sites want to publish directories and such, they should be REQUIRED to obtain the individuals' permission.

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by peggy80 / November 19, 2010 12:36 PM PST
In reply to: Stalkers and Abusers!

I agree, to the above letter. As a DV survivor of a cop, it is even harder to hide.

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Missing daughter and grand son-19 years
by rvdewees / November 19, 2010 2:46 PM PST

My daughter and her oldest son have been missing for 19 years (Feb 1991). Her husband is prime suspect of spousal and child murder. I have used this type of web pages to keep up with the ex son-in-law. Fortunately, I have critical info that makes his location rather easy to track.
Currently,the kids case is - No Bodies - No Crime. Until we locate their bodies, the case is nil.

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Making Private public
by redazn / November 19, 2010 2:50 PM PST

I do not like that anyone can bring up my general information and other, that I wish to remain private...no one has the right to know what you do not wish to give....evey site demands certain info or you cannot use their sites though...why do they do that? They need to make another way for folks to order things or what ever, without havng to tell what is private...I have noting to hide but I don't want every Tom, **** and Harry to know where I live and how to get there or my age or phone number unless I give it to them etc....

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Really just routine, but we should be watchful
by porsche10x / November 19, 2010 3:40 PM PST

A while ago, a friend forwarded a chain email to me about an "alarming" feature of Google, that you could just type in a phone number and get a name, address, and even a satellite picture of one's house! According to the email, somehow, this translated into the fabric of society falling apart with all of us falling victim to mass occurrences of abduction, murder, and child abuse. I pointed out to the sender that this information has been widely and publicly available for probably well over a hundred years, pretty much since the telephone was invented via that scurrilous scourge, the telephone book. Coles reverse directories have been in existence since long before I was born and you don't need a satellite picture of my house or a GPS to find me using a good old fashioned road map. All you have to do is take the most mundane irrelevancies, dress them up with a fancy font and some colored text and you can cause a riot. Yes, it's certainly true that there is much more information available right at anyone's fingertips and there is potential for as well as actual abuse. We do have to be careful, but we are bombarded with so much information that we have become oversensitized to every imagined threat no matter how remote or ill-conceived. Honestly, throughout all of human history, mankind has never been safer. Really. Perhaps that's why we've become so paranoid.

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Apparently, you don't know about 'unlisted' . . .
by LeeB / November 20, 2010 3:24 AM PST

telephone information, including unlisted addresses. When one is careful to either pay for an unlisted telephone number - a choice that keeps one's name AND address out of the telephone directory - or choose to list one's name but not the residential address, these online directories should be held to the same standard. MY information is MINE; how dare they go behind my back to the power company or the water district, whether by hacking or sloppy customer security by any utilities, then publish what they find without first getting MY permission? The Cole reverse directories can't list your name, phone number, and address if you have selected 'unlisted' with your telephone service provider - that is, they can't unless the phone company screws up, as it did in my case, which forced a sudden move, with all the attendant costs of doing that.

One in four women in this country are abuse victims. The statistics for children sexually abused by a family member are just as high. This is not paranoia; this is real, and to trivialize the problem in favor of some internet sites that have apparently figured out how to sell personal information is not helpful.

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that isn't quite what I said
by porsche10x / November 20, 2010 5:18 AM PST

I checked information on a bunch of people I know on this and other similar sites. I didn't find anything on any of them that wasn't in the phone book. Those with unlisted numbers didn't show up at all, even if I searched for their unlisted numbers. Yes, there are ways of getting even unlisted information that generally require spending a bit of money, but that's been true long before there was an internet. Marketing companies mine data from all sorts of sources, DMVs, County real estate records, court records, credit info, etc., and create and sell detailed lists and databases. But my point is, this isn't something new that started with the web. Regardless of your comment about the Coles directories, I could buy a phone book specifically of unlisted numbers fifty years ago. It just cost more than the standard coles directory, that's all.

I'm not entirely sure what your point about the power company is. You said that your personal information was inadvertently published in the public telephone directory. But still, the very fact that these very recent privacy laws only give you the option to "opt out" should make it clear that this has been a problem for a very long time.

I'm not trying to trivialize your or anyone else's situation. My point is just that the only thing that has changed fundamentally is not our degree of privacy, but the ease with which such information can be readily obtained. Still, I stand by what I said. Your personal situation notwithstanding, as a society, we have never been safer. It's only been several hundred years since the vast majority of the human population, even in the most civilized parts of the world, lived in very real and constant fear of being literally hacked to pieces purely for sport, simply by going out in public. Forget one in four, there still are places on this planet today where women cannot go out alone in public AT ALL for fear of being raped or worse. Just remember, not long ago, that used to be the conditions prevalent EVERYWHERE on the planet.

If anything, the recent passage of a variety of privacy laws shows that we are trying to stem the tide, but I'm not sure how easy it will be to put the genie back in the bottle. Most people don't opt out, and, frankly, sometimes I think that the only real effect of these laws is to add a pamphlet that no one reads in our bank statements, credit card bills, and doctors visits. I'm not saying that everything is just fine, but good luck fighting the tide without living under a rock.

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Sorry to get you tangled up . . .
by LeeB / November 20, 2010 12:27 PM PST

For at least the past 45 years, you could pay extra to have your phone number and address unlisted; to just list your name and phone number without your address was free. Utilities such as the power, water, sewer, and garbage had accounts in your name for your home, but the addresses and phone numbers were confidential information. As far as know, that information is still confidential, but unscrupulous internet site operators hack into - or buy - those data bases and publish what they find.

THAT is the part that is new. Published information in telephone directories is swept by all sorts of internet directories, making them available to anyone on the 'net. If what you had to deal with was calling Directory Service or looking somebody up in a paper directory, that is far more limiting than being able to hop onto the internet anywhere in the world and, in minutes, find individuals who think there is no reason to apply caution.

When you pay for confidentiality; or trust your power company, gas company, or water utility to keep your personal information confidential, why would you accept as okay their carelessness with the information? And why would you give a pass to the people operating sites like this who are selling information that does not belong to them?

Think of the rules pertaining to people who live in the limelight. They give up their privacy rights when they seek public attention. That does not apply to most of the rest of us.

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Sites like Spokeo.Com
by oliverpisces / November 19, 2010 4:28 PM PST

Of course we should be not just concerned but EXTREMELY concerned! This site provides hackers with a lot of the info that they'll need to set up identity theft. As far as I'm concerned, the more paranoid the better!

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This is really me?
by joelgeez / November 19, 2010 9:11 PM PST

It's always somewhat unnerving to feel exposed to the scrutiny of anybody with a keyboard.

However, this particular site would be even more unnerving if they had posted accurate information.
As long as humans interface w/computers to input information, I'm not super concerned.

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Very concern
by tomtotom1 / November 19, 2010 11:08 PM PST

This is, in my opinion, Big Brother at it best. I see now why I get so many unsolicited phone calls!

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by SIMoskowitz / November 20, 2010 1:16 AM PST

These sites might be dangerous if the information were correct and current. I find them just plain annoying. Information about my daughter and me is confused. Much of my information on Spokeo.com is wrong and believe it or not, by ex-son-in-law is listed as being married.

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what scares me more is the masive errors on the page
by magnusfl / November 20, 2010 3:11 AM PST

I got nothing to hid from any one so that does not scare me to much but I do understand ot can dangerious this info can be in some peoples hands but when looking up my own name which had my adress but 1/2 the information was wrong

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We are still at early stages of "1984"
by mrmac / November 20, 2010 3:25 AM PST

TX Dept of Public Safety recently requested ability to to monitor license plates of vehicles on piblic highways. People don't want scans at the airport. People don't want their information online. Across all these issues lie public safety and private lifes. With modern tech abilities, living a private life is nearly impossible. Most the the younger generation having frown up in a tech world accept it, those of us pre-tech world are more fearful. But they are all facts of today's life. As one blogger said, if you put it out there, it is there. Your choice is to exercise some care are become a hermit.

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By all means, excercise care . . .
by LeeB / November 20, 2010 4:03 AM PST

. . . but all the care an individual can muster won't help one single bit if the things we have to do, like have electricity, water, and gas at our homes just prove to be a back-door route to these creeps to capture our personal information and publish it without our permission.

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Spokeo.com is a joke.
by Omar_Schmidlap / November 20, 2010 4:22 AM PST

I found my entry; it's more than 20 years out of date -- enough said.

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Somewhat Concerned
by ratgurrl / November 20, 2010 4:52 AM PST

Public or not, I do not want a REPOSITORY of all of my information available to just anyone. Sure, anyone can find the info, but they would have to look and it would take a while.

I didn't have a lot of information out there, and most of it was inaccurate; however, a friend of mine found that it had a ton of information about her and her family - including her minor children.

I read a complaint forum and the paying customers are not happy, because the information often wrong.

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Insane political junkies who want "commies" dead
by Skydancer365 / November 20, 2010 8:52 AM PST

I debate politics a lot and I'm fairly liberal. Nowadays, with all the violent rhetoric out there about "Socialist" and "Commies" (which I get called constantly even though my beliefs are actually fairly moderately liberal), some of those guys are SCARY!!

I was able to find a lot of information about myself (TOO MUCH!) but the only reason I voted for "Very Concerned" instead of "Super Paranoid" is because my name is VERY common and it would be hard for somebody to know which one is me. OTOH, if I had minor children or had given out my real name to web sites, I would be "Super Paranoid"!

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Spokeo concerns
by mornmoos / November 21, 2010 6:18 AM PST

As a high school teacher, gang member students have said "you don't care whether you live or die, do you Mr. xxxx?", where I live and what I drive were common questions. And yes, I did tell them that gang members are cowards, they sneak up on victims and kill from ambush and out here, they kill more innocent people than their targets. My address and other info this easy to find is dangerous.

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(NT) Bingo! (n/t)
by LeeB / November 21, 2010 9:47 AM PST
In reply to: Spokeo concerns
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Very concerned
by junietoons / November 22, 2010 12:11 AM PST

There maybe someone looking for me to do me and mine harm and can find me that way, easy. and vise versa.

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A little concerned over the bad data
by rknopf / November 22, 2010 10:28 AM PST

Its all public info, but like anything gleaned without verification, a lot of it is wrong (based on the stuff I checked that I have personal knowledge about). How long until someone takes action on the bad data only to waste their time or cause someone grief?

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Very Concerned. I Had My Identity Stolen And Lost Thousands
by IDAREYOU / November 24, 2010 8:39 AM PST

I still have difficulty accepting that I had my "identity" stolen when
nothing was actually taken from my home. You can imagine my shock and outrage when my bank began declining transactions on my debit card while I was away from home. The thieves had simply copied the numbers without taking the card from my wallet when they broke into my hotel room while I was down the hall. But how they obtained the other information necessary for most debit transactions I have never figured out... but sites like this one can only make the crooks' lives easier. You can't imagine how many companies don't ask for all the information they should when taking a telephone order for example. So to learn that much of my personal information is available in one convenient location should delight the criminals, but it truly worries me. I know we live in the digital age, and I will agree that the information on such a site could be found elsewhere but for the life of me I can't think of one practical and positive reason for such information to be available in such a manner. I always wondered how my grandfather felt about all the personal information Who's Who included in his listing... but that at least had been checked and verified. No honest business or individual would try to get or use such information without going to the source, unless their motives were less than transparent.

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Yes, I'm Paranoid
by gaakbecker / November 30, 2010 2:34 AM PST

One of the worst things that could happen, as I've read in a couple of posts, is "Identity Theft"! If our system is still the way it has been, You, me are guilty until the person proves they didn't "help" commit the identity theft (very simplistic explanation).

This doesn't stop me enjoying the fact I can explore the world wide web and all the information one can get, learn and may use the knowledge available for the right reasons. But yes, I'm slightly paranoid.

Ps: Hope that made sense

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