Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

BeenVerified.com – Your Discount Private Eye?

We Live In The Information Age. That Information Is For Sale.. Even To You.

A reader sent me an email asking me for my thoughts on a website that provides “background checks”, for anyone with a credit card, after he had seen a commercial on TV. (I guess it is supposed to be more effective than simply Googling someone’s name…)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

BeenVerified.com claims to provide “background checks” (much like you might hire a PI to do) but also has this disclaimer — though, who reads those?

“Disclaimer: While we are constantly updating and refining our database and service, we do not represent or warrant that the results provided will be 100% accurate and up to date. BeenVerified™ is a database of publicly available sources of information aggregated for your convenience. BeenVerified™ does not provide private investigator services and this information should not be used for employment, tenant screening, or any FCRA related purposes. BeenVerified™ does not make any representation or warranty as to the character or the integrity of the person, business, or entity that is the subject of any search inquiry processed through our service. None of the above-featured companies either sponsor, endorse, or are in anyway affiliated with BeenVerified™.”

The keywords here are “aggregated”, and “publicly available sources”.

Some similar aggregator sites I have written about before: MyLife.com and Spokeo. (You may want to click those links and read..) There are several others. But, BeenVerified’s marketing angle is a new one to me.

What these sites do is collect, correlate, compile into one easy list, and sell access to the various mentions of us posted online, and/or uploaded into public databases (and there are many of those.. like property tax records, phone books..), information you could access yourself, one piece at a time. Short version: automated Big Brother. They are kind of convenient. And as time passes, and we put more of ourselves online (or the Gov’t and Businesses do it for us), the more detailed these ‘reports’ (search results, essentially) will be about us. Those doing genealogy love sites like this.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
In my years of writing, I have often talked about surveillance societies, tech, and “Big Brother” (use that last as a keyword in my search widget). From reader reaction to these articles, I have concluded that the concept formerly known as “privacy” is dead.. and that nobody cares.
After all.. it’s pretty cool that you can look up your High School sweetheart, and your childhood pals.

Right?

For those of you thinkers out there – I might ask you to consider the Law of Unintended Consequences. And maybe ask yourself how many people using this service, to decide if you can rent from them, read the disclaimer. Or how criminals might use (and love) these services too?

The future is here.

(PS — I have found that websites that advertise on TV.. well, I don’t want anything to do with them. And, the good ones don’t need to. That goes for software as well.)

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 22, 2011 - Posted by | computers, Internet, privacy, tech | , , , , , , , ,

11 Comments »

  1. TechPaul,

    Excellent advice and excellent article… If its’ on TV, stay away from it (like the one that will speed up your PC).

    Rick

    Like

    Comment by Ramblinrick | February 22, 2011 | Reply

    • Rick,
      Yes. Exactly like that one.

      (Folks, Rick is referring to the TV ads for FinallyFast. (aka FastAtLast. Also StopSign.. and others.))

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | February 22, 2011 | Reply

  2. Howdy Paul

    Personally I become more concerned with my privacy with each passing month. I Google myself frequently just to see what’s new. It’s not at all pleasing.

    I am curious if anyone has tried Reputation.com… They offer a pay service that supposedly scrubs your information off the Internet. It seems a little pricey even for the simplest of their services and extremely so for the more complex versions. But, I am considering trying them on for size. For $4.15/mo you can get a 5 year membership which gives you the the MyPrivacy service.

    I guess my question is whether this service is just another scam or is a viable alternative to trying to do it yourself.

    Thanks!

    Like

    Comment by KsTinMan | February 23, 2011 | Reply

    • P.S.

      Paul, I wasn’t suggesting that you should take time from your busy schedule to investigate this for me… I was hoping for a reader response.

      As for DIY information removal, I doubt that’s even possible without spending an inordinate amount of time and resources in the process, if even then… Don’t know what I was thinking!!!

      Like

      Comment by KsTinMan | February 23, 2011 | Reply

  3. KsTinMan,
    I, too, am hoping for some reader input on that question.

    For those who are interested in their privacy, I posted How
    To Remove Your Name From Search Engines and Social
    Networking Sites

    Like

    Comment by techpaul | February 23, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for supplying the link to your article Paul. I knew I read about it somewhere, and should have known it was here… :^)

      Like

      Comment by KsTinMan | February 23, 2011 | Reply

  4. And lets not forget to not believe everything you read on the internet. Last time I looked myself up on spokeo, it had me listed twice, neither was my current address but the 2 previous, and none of the info on family status was even remotely close.

    Like

    Comment by Dave B | February 24, 2011 | Reply

    • Dave B,
      A very good point.

      Sadly, I have found that the “average computer user” implicitly trusts what their machine says.. which is why rogue antivirus attacks are so effective. And very few people understand what the Internet is.. and how any person – like me – can post whatever they want: that there are no Internet Police or governing bodies, overseers, or regulatory ‘watchdog’ groups.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | February 24, 2011 | Reply

  5. Beenverified used my neighbors traffic tickets to post them as criminal offenses. The took court records that listed a seat belt citation as a criminal offense. They changed the citation number entirely and took off the TR…which classifies it as a traffic citation and changed it to a criminal charge. The case number was made up and altered. Altering a court record is illegal and libeluos.

    Bob

    Like

    Comment by lodackk@aol.com | April 23, 2011 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      Um… not sure what to say.

      … if that happened to me? I’d retain a lawyer mucho muy mas pronto.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | April 23, 2011 | Reply

  6. Hi, just wanted to say, I liked this blog post.
    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

    Like

    Comment by Dennis J Curran | August 9, 2012 | Reply


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