Spokeo.com Evolved into a Scam or Search Engine?
Spokeo.com claims to do something simple: aggregate all the publicly available information about a person and sell it to anyone who is willing to pay with payday loans or otherwise. Many are asking if it’s a scam, or if Spokeo really does offer a legitimate service. The answer is … sort of. So I “Spokeoed” myself to see what comes up.
What Spokeo.com Finds
Spokeo itself is a search engine that aggregates social networking information, phone book information, and many other areas you may have entered personal information to get an all inclusive picture of you. Any information considered public on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Ning, Netflix, Flickr, Last.fm or any other network is aggregated using the Spokeo search. The aggregator matches the information it gathers with an e-mail address. Spokeo then sells the information it aggregates to anybody who gets payday loans no faxing or any other financing to pay for the information.
So I put in my name to see what happens. Spokeo has a lot of information, but not all of it is accurate. It has my address listed as somewhere I haven’t lived in years (you can bet I’m not telling them that though). I didn’t bother paying for their service to see what else they have on me or how accurate it is, but really most of their information they do have can be found by doing a simple Google search on my name.
The response of Spokeo.com to scam allegations is that company heads are “just launching a new version of Spokeo and are reviewing policies and algorithms.”
Keeping social networking information safe from Spokeo
The spookiest thing about Spokeo.com, scam or not, is that it aggregates information on the internet you may or may not want shared. More important than which web sites like Spokeo.com might be aggregating your information is what you choose to share. If available, set your privacy settings to a level you are comfortable with. However it does have a link where you can opt out of Spokeo having your information. The problem is, you don’t know about the link unless you look for it. Here is where you can opt out: http://www.spokeo.com/optout
Spokeo.com is an aggregator – so be sure to remove information you do not want public from the original web site where the information was available. Beyond protecting yourself from the potential Spokeo.com scam, it is just good practice in protecting yourself online.