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Spokeo Fined $800K By FTC For Marketing Its Services To Employers

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the ftc-wearing-the-daddypants-today dept.

Privacy 81

nonprofiteer writes "Spokeo was one of the first public-facing person-profiling companies to attract the ire of those profiled. Taglined 'not your grandmother's phonebook,' it offers up profiles pulled from public records, social networking sites, etc, including your address, worth of your home, who's in your family, your estimated wealth, your hobbies and interests, and more. People freaked out when they first discovered it. Apparently, the company was selling reports to employers, but not following principles set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Federal Trade Commission is fining them $800,000. FTC also chastises them for writing fake positive reviews around the Web."

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I am safe. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40299951)

I typed in my own name. They had nothing on me. They found a few other people of the same name, but they were clearly not me.

Whew.

Re:I am safe. (4, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300035)

I typed in my own name. They had nothing on me. They found a few other people of the same name, but they were clearly not me.

In some circumstances that can be much much worse.

Re:I am safe. (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300075)

Just make sure that those it has info on are better than you and you should be in the clear.

Re:I am safe. (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300435)

Just make sure that those it has info on are better than you and you should be in the clear.

How exactly do you make sure of that? It's not really something you have control over.

Re:I am safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300485)

File a privacy removal request for all the bad ones. That way you can be sure.

Re:I am safe. (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40309175)

You do have control over that but it generally requires that you are a pretty shitty person to begin with. The problem with that is that if you are a really shitty person there would end up being plenty of public info on you and they would end up picking up that. I didn't really expect my comment to even be taken seriously.

Re:I am safe. (1)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300957)

Oh yea.... Once I lived near a guy who had nearly the same name and he had some credit issues and bill collections. Apparently, our credit records got linked and it took ages to get the mess cleaned up....

Re:I am safe. (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310167)

I've met three other people with the exact same name... I figure, if I ever win the lottery, they'll be easier to find than me.. :)

Re:I am safe. (1)

6ULDV8 (226100) | more than 2 years ago | (#40301675)

Wow!... I'm only in my late 20's. Cool!

But will anyone believe it's not you (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 2 years ago | (#40302469)

My wife has a rather unique name, yet there is a woman in California with the same one. The annoying thing is, the one in California seems to have a lot more fun than we do.

Re:I am safe. (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40305577)

Yeah, wasn't there a Japanese fellow who has been having all types of problems for years because he has the same name as a sex offender (or something equally bad)? I think /. ran a story on it about 2 months ago or so (sorry, can't find it).

Re:I am safe. (2)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300085)

How did you get through so many Anonymous Cowards...so quickly?!

Re:I am safe. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300157)

Found me.
From 10 years ago. That's about the time I stopped using my real name on the internet.

Re:I am safe. (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300311)

You must have stopped using your real name to buy your house, get a job, and get married too. Nice job!

Re:I am safe. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300363)

He don't need a house, he has his mom basement. He don't need a wife, he has all the internet's pron.

Re:I am safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300679)

He don't need a wife, he has all the internet's pron.

How would that help? Pr0n has never nagged me, never harangued me, and never made me sleep on the couch.

I think he needs to use the Internet's trolldom instead.

Re:I am safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40301019)

ow would that help? Pr0n has never nagged me, never harangued me, and never made me sleep on the couch.

Neither has my wife :P
Do not settle on the first girl you go out with, take a small samples before. If you are dumped, find-out why, then seduce a girl who tolerate, or even better when possible, like, that behavior.

When the sampling is done, find one that do not features the behaviours you disliked and seduce her.

Re:I am safe. (1)

fermat1313 (927331) | more than 2 years ago | (#40301151)

ow would that help? Pr0n has never nagged me, never harangued me, and never made me sleep on the couch.

Neither has my wife :P Do not settle on the first girl you go out with, take a small samples before. If you are dumped, find-out why, then seduce a girl who tolerate, or even better when possible, like, that behavior.

When the sampling is done, find one that do not features the behaviours you disliked and seduce her.

That is simultaneously, the most logical and coherent and the most utterly useless advice I've ever seen. Unfortunately relationships are never logical nor coherent, thus it's just useless.

Re:I am safe. (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40305593)

Basically, I think what he's saying to say is try to find a girl that likes bondage, threesomes, and anal. He's just being coy about it.

Re:I am safe. (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300181)

From 1997 to 2006, I lived on State Route 26. Spokeo lists me currently on "State Route, Unit 26" and their map is off by quite a few miles (right township though) and estimates the home value at 10 times what was paid for it in 1997 and at least 3-4 times what it's currently worth. It also thinks I'm a political donor (I'm not), likes shopping (I don't), and am Catholic (insulting). The only information correct is the first name of my brother and mother.

Re:I am safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300233)

Wow, you've just confirmed a lot of personal information about yourself.

Congratulations! They'll update their records accordingly.

Re:I am safe. (2)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300415)

I took a look at the website. From what I can tell, anything beyond partial phone number, possible street-level addresses and bogus value, possible relatives probably just to confirm the match... pretty much everything else is a sample of what a report would look like. The interests, for example, all have question marks. The random names I typed in have very similar interests to yours.

Unless you gave the bastards money?

Re:I am safe. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300797)

I never realized 'insulting' was a religion.

Re:I am safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300991)

Oh it is.. Or at least it is a denomination of all of the main ones..

Re:I am safe. (1)

FauxReal (653820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40303077)

I searched for myself and Spokeo lists my last address in a previous state (13 years ago) and correctly identifies my parents as being a male and female. Amazing technology they have there.

Re:I am safe. (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40305627)

I decided to take a look at my name. My God, they mangled it to the ends of the earth. The addresses were wrong (right city, bizarrely wrong streets & #s), my mom was also my sister(?!?!?!), and depending on which address I clicked on, I had anywhere from 1 to 7(?) (I only have 4, if you include my wife) family members. My favorite was the 1 member, which was just me. What, am I the new Adam or something?
Quality service- sign me up! lol

Re:I am safe. (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40305705)

Yeah, according to them, I'm a millionaire. Oh yeah, Nevermind.

Re:I am safe. (3, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300341)

They found me. They found the address I lived at for a few months, but not the one I've been at for a few years. My sister's name is right, but she's apparently 40 years older than she really is, and exists in five different places at once. My father's name is "Father", and my mother's name is "Mother". They're male and female, respectively.

I'm unimpressed.

Several years ago, I told a friend on IRC that I could track him down in real life. He didn't believe me. I went through our chat logs, found his first and last real names, and the city he lived in. I then used a plain old phone book (you know, like grandma has) to call his potential family members. I eventually got hold of his mother's catering company, and she passed on a greeting for me. My information, discovered through plain old communication, was more accurate than what this thing has.

Re:I am safe. (2)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300639)

yeah, that site is not very accurate at all.

I have a fairly unique last name. There are only 2 distinct families with it in the entire US, and the other family has yet to use my first name for one of their sons. Therefore any search for my first and last name always comes up with me (discouting large lists of names where the first and last name don't actually appear together). Somehow this site has me living in 4 different states, and one of them i've never even visited. In one of the states where I went to school it lists only the first address (out of 7) that I used when I first moved to that state. And in the state I grew up it claims my parents had my last name, which because of divorce and a second marriage they did not.

I have to say that Spokeo isn't worth the digital ink it is printed with

Re:I am safe. (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40305671)

There are currently only 6 living people in the US that have my last name. And just like you, Spokeo confused me with Santa Claus or something with how bad it messed everything up. Best part- I check the different addresses listed, and each one might have been a different person according to the details.

Re:I am safe. (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40305719)

and the other family has yet to use my first name for one of their sons.

I think a patent is in order.

Re:I am safe. (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40307465)

and the other family has yet to use my first name for one of their sons.

I think a patent is in order

Or maybe I should register it as my trademark?

Re:I am safe. (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40305651)

At least your mom is listed as "mom" and "sister", like mine did! (And no, I'm not from Kentucky)

Re:I am safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40306291)

I show up five times. Although I have two sisters, only one entry has two siblings -- one sister seems to have ahd a sex (and name) change in the last three weeks.

Re:I am safe. (4, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300371)

You're not the one from NY?
http://www.spokeo.com/search?q=Anonymous+Coward&s2=t24 [spokeo.com]

Re:I am safe. (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 2 years ago | (#40301455)

Gah, sorry, I didn't notice your post when I first skimmed this thread!

-l

Re:I am safe. (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 2 years ago | (#40301405)

Hrm, it says there are three Anonymous Cowards [spokeo.com] , one each in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

And none of those are you?
-l

Re:I am safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40303247)

Were you addressing me, myself, or I?

Nice slap on the wrist... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300113)

$800,000 and a "don't do that again, or at least don't get caught" is a slap on the wrist in this type of market.

Re:Nice slap on the wrist... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300323)

It's a very big slap though to a small company like this.

Re:Nice slap on the wrist... (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300355)

Yea, fines are always a slap on the wrist kind of deals. Very rarely will they ever seem to be of a size enough to make the company think twice.

Re:Nice slap on the wrist... (5, Interesting)

Saroful (1364377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300361)

The FTC should have forced them to send a copy of each and every report they sent out and to whom. The cost of sending out all of the reports, plus of all the lawsuits by those that were denied jobs because of the bad information within them, would be far above the fine.

Re:Nice slap on the wrist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300975)

It would also mean a greater likelihood that Spokeo would take the case to court, and cause a lot more work and headaches for the investigators.

Re:Nice slap on the wrist... (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#40301651)

It would also mean a greater likelihood that Spokeo would take the case to court, and cause a lot more work and headaches for the investigators.

So? Investigating is what they get paid to do. They don't have to *enjoy* it.

Re:Nice slap on the wrist... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40307453)

How is it even legal for employers to request that kind of information? It isn't in the UK.

internet is a nightmare for job seekers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300175)

every job gets flooded with a billion resumes, the employer can search your whole life story in a second...

Not enough (2)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300199)

It's fine like these that makes me sick. With the amount of money these guys make there probably laughing.

Re:Not enough (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300369)

Yea, often times they just budget fines like this into their operating expenses.

Re:Not enough (2)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300393)

Really? What are Spokeo's financials? Revenue and even cash flow can make $800k look small, but fines come out of profit.

So yeah, for Apple $800k is nothing. For many businesses $800k is a death sentence. I hope it is the latter for Spokeo, but it won't really matter as the torch will simply pass to the next scumbag in line.

Re:Not enough (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310391)

trust me, it's not death sentence since a good business man will know how to deal with this case very softly. opening up another business is an idea and has been done before to either avoid or delay the 800k fine to pay up. Theres the fact that you can play on the market and/or your capitals to gain lots of revenue and pay less income in the end. In conclusion, those businessmen will never take 800k$ fine as a death sentence...unfortunately. But I'm with ya on this one.

Spokeo is wildly inaccurate (2)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300207)

I can't imagine anyone using spokeo for anything important, as their info is not even close to being correct. When I checked my profile a year or 2 ago (When you could see it all without paying), it had me living in a million dollar home (off by more than an order of magnitude), with a several hobbies which weren't even the slightest bit correct (knitting, and horses I think), and had someone the same age as my mother living in the house, despite the fact that she never lived there, had any mail delivered there, or anything. I don't remember the rest, but category after category I was reading it thinking "wow, I barely even know myself".

Re:Spokeo is wildly inaccurate (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300377)

and had someone the same age as my mother living in the house, despite the fact that she never lived there

Give Spokeo the credit that is due -- they do know about that woman you have chained up in your basement.

Re:Spokeo is wildly inaccurate (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300419)

The problem isn't whether or not you know the information presented about you is correct, it is whether others viewing the information believe it or not.

Re:Spokeo is wildly inaccurate (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40305063)

Of course the people who paid for the data believe it. They paid good money for it, which is a powerful mechanism for making people want to believe what they read, particular when it is presented as being factual.

Re:Spokeo is wildly inaccurate (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40301081)

it had me living in a million dollar home (off by more than an order of magnitude)

Oh I see how it is, mister fancy-pants $10M+ home.

Re:Spokeo is wildly inaccurate (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40309271)

Well, going around calling yourself 'Lord' is going to lead to errors like this.

Million dollar home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310313)

They also said my home was worth one million plus. It's not. It's worth maybe $50-60K tops and that was before the real estate market went in the toilet. I doubt I could get $45K if I had to sell it today.

They also have my email address domain still listed as an ISP that went defunct and out of business more than a decade ago.

Re:Million dollar home (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316703)

Yeah, and I don't have the faintest idea where they get these numbers from (other than from their ass). I checked again now and my formerly million dollar home is now worth $44k, which is much closer, but now about 30-40% too low. But the numbers don't even make any sense. They don't come from the state assessed values. And they don't come from any of the automated appraisal sources like zillow, bank of america, epraisal etc. They have my entire block of mostly identical houses all listed in the low to mid $40ks, except for 3 houses that are just like the rest but somehow list for $600k. How do they come up with that?

The site used to be far worse. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300217)

The site actually offers much less than it used to even as recent as three months ago. It was obvious that either data used to be pulled from credit card purchases very recently. However, my last few visits to the site (over the last two or so months) do not show that section; it is instead replaced with a generic looking UI that leads to a pay wall.

Dup of yesterday's story (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40300225)

About invasive species hitching a ride on the wake of a tsunami [slashdot.org] .

Well, in metaphorical terms, I guess. At least the dupes are getting more sophisticated.

It found me - Big Deal (1)

Cheech Wizard (698728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300293)

It found me. But then again, I'm retired and my name and address is all over the internet having been doing web sites since 1995. Personally I couldn't care less what information it collects on me, but I'm sure a younger person would. I didn't pay the US$14.95 (or what ever it was) to see "everything", but I can see it has the wrong phone number but the right address for me. Then again, this isn't anything new. I remember in the mid- to late- 1990's there were several companies on the internet that did court record searches and the whole sha-bang and were very good. As always, a fair amount of misinformation, but that's typical in information gathering like this. I get a free credit record report from the "big three" in the US every year just because they have to provide it once a year free and there are errors in each one. I've never tried to get a correction because I don't care (having a FICA score of 815 and no need for credit to begin with). My bet is as many people use this to "spy" on their neighbors as do companies to "check out" prospective employees.

Re:It found me - Big Deal (1)

jaymon (1087729) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300447)

It found me too. Wrong phone number and email address (never ever used that provider). Spend a few minutes removing myself and my wife (two listing for her!). Who would use this service (?) if it seems to be so f**ked up?

Re:It found me - Big Deal (2)

Cheech Wizard (698728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40301113)

I didn't bother to go through the "removal" process. I hope it works for you. I did go back to the site and took a closer look and it has 6 entries for me from what I can tell - Some old stuff, some more recent stuff and what not. Different old phone numbers, addresses, etc. As to who uses it, mainly uninformed people who believe the information is correct, probably. To me it's been a game for a long time. For example - Four Facebook profiles, each with different information but very close to same name (I don't even use Facebook other than for posting links to some of my web sites). You can pretty much devalue data mining if you want to by planting stuff all around. In the late 1990's I used to plant stuff on newsgroups, for example.

You can screw them up if you want to. There are lots of blogs, forums and such where you can spread mis-information. A VPN account or two is nice to have especially if the service gives you multiple locations in multiple countries you can VPN to and surf from where ever. I can VPN to a Hong Kong server, for example, and browse from there. A bit of latency, but not a big deal. TOR can be put to good use when spreading mis-information, too. I use 5 different browsers on this computer alone (use a browser and clear the cache and the cookies and then close it, then use another browser for a while - Rinse and Repeat), and since I work on the internet I have 3 different ISPs/providers (I need the redundancy so they're a business expense) for a variety of IPs (but VPNs and TOR are better for that). In my case, having been doing web sites for over 15 years, I've planted a lot of fake information around over the years.

On the other hand, I'm in my 60's and don't really care what info they come up with. It *is* admittedly entertaining to see some of the stuff companies like this come up with. When you're a bit bored, just sign up on some forums, make some extra Facebook accounts and stuff like that. Blog posts are another good place to put mis-information. The more mis-information you get out there the more unreliable anything a site like this can come up with is.

Well, with that in mind, I think I'll VPN to a provider in Britain and set up anther Facebook account and maybe another Twitter account. One can never have too many fake accounts!

Privacy is dead (1)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300521)

A company like this should be shut down. If someone voluntarily gives their data to a social networking site like Facebook, shouldn't that data remain private to Facebook? You opted on your own to give Facebook that data. So Facebook can store it as you want it. You didn't put your contact information on FB so that Spokeo can poach that data and use it to sell your information.

Isn't that data technically property of Facebook/Myspace/etc. anyways? Sure you can chose to give out your data elsewhere and anywhere. But it's your choice. If you only want your data available from Facebook, or YouTube, or the Yellow Pages, then shouldn't that be an option?

When did it become acceptable to post information about people without their permission? As bad as Facebook is at least you have to sign up before giving up your privacy. An $800,000 fine for privacy violations on a mass scale? And not even a fine but a warning for being caught astroturfing and posting false information about their business? Pathetic.

Re:Privacy is dead (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300575)

You didn't put your contact information on FB so that Spokeo can poach that data and use it to sell your information.

If you ask Facebook, that's *exactly* why you put your information on Facebook. That's the only reason Facebook exists.

When did it become acceptable to post information about people without their permission?

Since the First Amendment.

Re:Privacy is dead (2)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300613)

You don't get out much, do you? Facebook sells your information. Always has. Always will. It was in the agreement you agreed to when you signed up. People have been talking about it for years. Where have you been?

Re:Privacy is dead (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300697)

When did it become acceptable to post information about people without their permission?

When people started living together.

Seriously, these types of endeavours are analogous to the 18th century "town gossip". And by "these types", I include the credit reporting agencies. They were considered to be borderline rude busybodies then, and the characterization hasn't changed much. If they didn't have politicians in their pockets, there'd be a simple solution to their shenanigans. Simply require them to report to the target what they are reporting to the customer.

That gives me a chance to blow a hole in their database, which is exactly why the companies avoid it at all cost. Much better for them to collect the $14.95, and me to never know why I didn't get hired.

Anyone have a paid password to check myself out? (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300755)

Maybe Slashdot can buy an account, username:slashdot, password:slashdot, and we can all check ourselves out to see what they have on us?

Because currently it costs money. Posting this story might drive people to buy their product, even.

Re:Anyone have a paid password to check myself out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40301285)

I'd opt for cypherpunks / cypherpunks ;)

Fined for what, exactly? (2)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40300775)

Apparently, the company was selling reports to employers, but not following principles set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Call me cynical, but it sounds like their real crime was not being one of the Big Three credit agencies, probably do worse stuff, more often.

Re:Fined for what, exactly? (2)

gatfirls (1315141) | more than 2 years ago | (#40301097)

No, it's pretty bad when a "reporting agency" can basically say "welp this is what we think is their information" and present it as fact. It's a pretty basic protection we need from exactly silly stuff like this. FTFA: "The problem highlighted by the FTC was not the core of what Spokeo does — cyberstalking you! — but that it was selling the information to employers without following the principles of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, i.e. not making sure the info in its reports was accurate and not notifying you if an employer decided not to hire you based on what it found in the Spokeo report."

Fines these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40301003)

What is the point of a fine so miniscule that it has no hope of deterring future actions?

Remove your profile (2)

CimmerianX (2478270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40301255)

Looking at the site, there is a 'remove' option in the privacy link.
http://www.spokeo.com/privacy [spokeo.com]

I wonder if it actually removes you or if they just add your ip to the list of info. i.e. "Likes using Firefox"

Seriously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40301295)

Numskulls on every side. The company selling information that has a good chance of being not just wrong, but very wrong, and likely destroying a number of otherwise perfect hiring prospects. Weasel clients that would actually pay for that sh*t. An FTC that, as usual, gives a slap on the wrist fine to that company for violating consumer rights and deceitful marketing.

Also, from TFA: "In the settlement announcement on its website, the FTC notes that it’s the first time the agency has addressed the “sale of Internet and social media data in the employment screening context.”" So much fail in that one sentence. People have been using the Internet to look up information on potential hires several years. Social media compounded the problem but certainly was not the cause. FTC, like nearly every government entity, moves slower than molasses going uphill.

I don't think there is a wall thick enough in my house to withstand the amount of headbanging I want to engage in.

What's in a name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40301409)

A lot apparently.

This company is not unique, in fact it has been quite the cottage industry for years. Now with the advent of the "Lets put our records ONLINE!" push, there is a wealth of information to be had, just by looking on the web. Many areas put their public records online, free to search by anybody with an internet connection. Many more have electronic searching available if you pay an access fee. Fewer and fewer jurisdictions are left where you actually have to show up and ask the clerk to see the records. I've lived in areas that have unrestricted public access over the internet for most of their records, so sites like this have a LOT of information about me. They are far from perfect and only go back about 15 years from what I can tell.

It does sadden me though that folks would fork over nearly $15 for somebody else to do the work for you. If you have a name and a general location, it's usually not that hard to find out a bunch of things. For instance, before a friend of mine purchased his house, I helped him find out lots of useful information about the seller.. How much they paid for the house, how much they owed, marital status (pending divorce) who held the loan and even a little criminal history. All this took about half an hour and didn't cost a dime. Then we also looked at comp homes in the area and did the same kind of thing. Though it all, I think I helped him lower his initial offer, which the sellers accepted, and saved him a few thousand dollars.

Not to trash Spokeo, but they are WAY over priced for their data. First it is not verifiable because they don't provide sources, Second it is apparently not totally accurate at times, and Third most of what they have on me is publicly available using a Google and a little bit of understanding of how Public Records work.

Perfect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40301875)

Ah, good. It thinks I'm a female.

lol (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40302571)

And I bet they made more in a week than that fine cost them. The marketing guys are getting a fat bonus this year (so are their friends at the FTC)

There used to be a service called eliyon (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304067)

OK I am taking this from memory , but back around 2002 there used to be a website called , I think, Eliyon (don't take my memory as infallible here) which offered up profiles of people including, I distinctly remember, very personal stuff which could only be inferences about their characters, like, oh, the fact that they might be addicted to masturbation.

Apparently this would have been gleaned, I really have no idea, from information from porn websites or chat room logs, in some sort of arrangement with them one supposes. I read a sample profile and truly just thought "wow, that's where this is all going to.... Huh." It never occurred to me that it might somehow be illegal or, you know , libelous.

Since then I then, I finished growing my brain and realized "holy shit, who WAS that? I've tried to use the Wayback machine to get to the site but it doesn't appear in the same way I saw it (how long it was up and presenting itself in that way I truly have no idea ) .

What it's lead me to wonder is this: OK so this company in this piece is going to get slapped and learn it's lesson about advertising to everyone willy nilly, but what do companies collect and pass make available to each other on "black sites" which go straight into some nameless,protected server "out there"? I can't believe they don't do this- it just stands to reason they would if they thought they could encode it and keep their hands clean via plausible deniability.

I know the police do this, or did at least.

I also know there are services which will try to bust employers talking smack about, and give you the transcript, to what they think is another employer or recruiter for instance,

http://www.references-etc.com/ [references-etc.com]

I'm pissed at them, and at AOL. (1)

Artifex (18308) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311113)

Okay. I've had Spokeo remove my data before, and assumed I'd be gone when I double checked today. Nope: they have/had multiple records for me, showing multiple addresses, and a lot of personal data. So I told them to remove the listings again. Let's see how long it lasts, this time.

Perhaps even worse, though, is that in each case they had an partial email account listed for me, ending in @aol.com. I haven't had AOL since the 80s, (QuantumLink, PC-Link, etc.) but I have had a couple of AOL IM accounts, and these days those come with @aol.com email addresses. I've never ever used or given anyone those email addresses, so AOL must have sold that private data.

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