Monday, March 29, 2010

Private Information, Yeah Right, Tell Me Another One Bub

Recently, I wrote about the inaccuracy of websites which fail to update outdated data. I found such laziness to be annoying. Little did I realize, just how big, or how frightening, the problem actually was. A few days ago, my friend, Sarah, alerted me to a site called, where surfers can look up stats on other people. For free, users can view a person’s postal address, marital status, hobbies and interests, income level, neighborhood stats, and a picture of their home. Plus, for $2.95 a month, surfers can access even more detailed data about a person including their financial credibility.

If that’s not enough to give somebody the screaming willies, making matters worse is the fact that much of the information is wrong. I looked my name up to find I have “some college,” implying I didn't graduate, I've only lived in my current home for 12 years, and that I play baseball as a hobby. Even if you only count the time I’ve lived in my current home since graduating from Oregon State University, I’ve lived in my current home since 1994. Of course, people who know me, know the idea of me playing baseball is downright laughable.

The site also claims that my brother, Jeff, has kids, and my friend, Sarah, lives at her office. OK, a case can be made for saying Sarah lives in her office. Still, I think Jeff would be dismayed to see offspring being attributed to his loins.

Fortunately, there is a way to delete one’s info, by going to and following the directions. The deletion is instantaneous. I was just feeling relieved about having deleted my info, when my friend, Leasa, directed me to a similar site, It was then I realized just how wide spread this thing is.

I went to Google, typed “people search,” and found 370,000,000 results. While many of these sites probably aren’t as detailed as the sites I’ve mentioned, numerous sites boast the ability to list unlisted phone numbers, access court records, and/or run credit checks on anyone. With so many sites offering such services, it’s impossible for a person to remove themselves from every single site, even if said person kept at it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year ‘round.

Forget Big Brother. Now, any brother, sister, cousin twice removed, or complete stranger with an internet connection can learn practically anything about anyone. I don’t know what’s creepier, the fact that personal information can be accessed with a click of a mouse, or the fact that there seems to be no system in place to fact check said information.

1 comment:

  1. I knew about pipl but not about spokeo. Spokeo couldent even bring me up, but pipl can. It is pretty scary what your name came be attached to.