Creepy Stalker Tool or Family Finder? New Internet Search Sites Show Personal Info for Free
Two websites have surfaced recently touting their mission to help people connect. Some argue they have gone too far, though. You’ve probably never heard of TruePeopleSearch.com and FamilyTreeNow.com but these sites know a lot about you.
They are free for public use so anyone can see detailed search results (unlike similar sites where most information is behind a paywall or, at the least, an account login). Completely legal to disclose, the information comes from both public records and social media sites.
“That’s creepy,” said Morgan Meilenz, Service Coordinator at The Miller Group, about her search results on True People Search. “It has my parents, dead relatives, all my old addresses and cell phone number right there. Not OK.”
The About page of True People Search reads, “We want to make finding lost friends & family as easy as possible…. So we created this site for everyone to use for free.” But this website isn’t the first to offer this information to the public for free. FamilyTreeNow.com began doing the same thing in January and garnered negative attention for invasion of privacy.
Family Tree Now was designed for those working on a family tree or finding more about heritage… An innocent premise until you realize folks can and will search for others to be nosey or worse. While a free database like this could be very useful for those researching genealogy, it’s the more heinous applications that cause concern. For persons wanting to harass or even harm, addresses and relatives’ names are obtained with a few easy clicks. This is especially concerning for those in a field where they regularly receive threats such as law enforcement.
Cybercrime is another suspicious application of what you find on these sites. Scandalous internet crooks can quickly access personal information to use in targeted phishing scams and the like. These websites also make it much easier for thieves to gather necessary data to hijack your identity.
Meilenz immediately wanted to know if she could opt out of such results, and thankfully, for these two sites the option exists. For True People Search go here and follow the step-by-step instructions. For Family Tree Now go here and follow the instructions. It isn’t clear whether “opting out” eventually removes your personal information from their database, or whether it just hides it from the public. Also, some people have reported online that they’ve had trouble opting out on the mobile version so they had to resort to the desktop site.
The National Cyber Security Alliance says, “In dealing with cybercrime, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure.” For more information on protecting your digital presence visit our site www.stlcybersecurity.com or www.stopthinkconnect.org.