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

Just Say “No” To mylife.com

* * * ATTENTION: I AM NOT MYLIFE.COM, IN ANY WAY AFFILIATED WITH MYLIFE.COM, AND CANNOT HELP YOU WITH YOU MYLIFE.COM. — SO I HAVE TURNED OFF COMMENTS. THEIR NUMBER IS 1-888-704-1900 * * *


Everyone in my address book received an e-mail from me asking them to join MyLife. To each and every one of you, I apologize. Please, just delete it as the spam it is.

How that happened was, I was asked to write a review of a “new” social networking site, and so I had to ‘enroll’ and become a member.. which involves building my “profile”.. which involves importing “who I know” (aka “contacts”).

The site/service in question is called mylife, which appears to me to be a mashup between the professional Linkedin social networking site, and PeopleFinders Reunion, the “locate long lost friends” site.

MyLife.com logo

MyLife.com Banner Logo

“Find Everyone & Stay Connected
across the web’s most popular sites”

Of course, you need to sign up, and of course, it’s “free to join”.

The first thing you’ll see is a full page ad for contact lenses (which you’ll need to find the teeny-tiny “no thanks” link). Then you’ll see another full-page ad.. and then you’ll be provided a form to fill in your personal details and build your MyLife “profile”. And you’ll be asked to import your contacts by providing your e-mail addresses and login passwords.

Please read that last sentence again.

Presuming you do so, and allow mylife to vacuum up your contact list (which is sent via unencrypted HTTP) it will then go through the Web and find any mention of them on the Web (such as, finding their Facebook page, Linkedin profile, etc.). It shows you some results, and
MyLife_sales_pitch

If you spend more than 20 seconds on MyLife, you’re going to see this page. If you want to click any of the links this service provides, you’re going to see this page. You’re going to see this page a lot.

Because this page is what MyLife is all about.

If you have ever used (or..tried to use) a free “people search” type website, you know how they work. You enter a person’s name, and they produce a list of results.. usually including the person you’re looking for. So you click on the “details”, or “contact”, or “more” button/link, and you’re told that access to this data requires “membership”. Same with mylife only worse.


* * * ATTENTION: I AM NOT MYLIFE.COM, IN ANY WAY AFFILIATED WITH MYLIFE.COM, AND CANNOT HELP YOU WITH YOU MYLIFE.COM. — SO I HAVE TURNED OFF COMMENTS. THEIR NUMBER IS 1-888-704-1900 * * *


I don’t think I’ve ever seen a site nag you to buy like MyLife does. Incredible.

Let’s say there was a case of “user error”, and it was my fault that all my contacts got spammed (with my name on it), I still could not find one thing to recommend MyLife.
Two big thumbs down.

[update: MyLife is the same folks who brought us Reunion. David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times has accused social-networking site Reunion.com of abusing e-mail contacts. The company’s aggressive marketing tactics require you to surrender your address list to join up, in most cases. The site then sends out invitations in your name to all your contacts.]

[further update: for those of you with concerns about how your personal information is used (and sold), I strongly urge you to read, Mylife.com: A new tool for bargain-seeking stalkers. ]

LinkedIn is the only “social networking” thing I do. It is free and it is aimed at professionals (everyone I have ever talked to who has “looked ip old friends”, has done so on Facebook.). And if you really do a lot of looking up people (say, for genealogy), use Ancestry.com. You can get it free at your local library in most places.
And, oh yeah! Try Google. Put the person’s name inside quotes for exact matches.

… doubt I’ll be asked to do another review.. but I call ’em as I see ’em.

Addenda: I have received several e-mails asking how you remove mylife from a computer…

I don’t understand this. MyLife is a “service” you sign up for.. sort of like Facebook, or Twitter, or.. a webmail. It isn’t a program you install, or a malware infection like a virus. If you signed up, you have to log in to MyLife and unsubscribe. To stop receiving e-mails from them.. well, about all you can do is add a rule to your spam filter (sometimes called a “blacklist”) and block them. [for webmail, see Managing your email: eliminating the junk, and in a mail client see, Managing junk mail in Outlook/Thunderbird .]

* For those of you who want to learn about the proper way to un-entagle yourself from social networking sites: How To Remove Your Name From Search Engines and Social Networking Sites

* To see real life complaints (other than in the comments below), click here.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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* * * ATTENTION: I AM NOT MYLIFE.COM, IN ANY WAY AFFILIATED WITH MYLIFE.COM, AND CANNOT HELP YOU WITH YOU MYLIFE.COM. — SO I HAVE TURNED OFF COMMENTS. THEIR NUMBER IS 1-888-704-1900 * * *


March 6, 2009 Posted by | advice, Internet, networking, social networking, tech, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , | 117 Comments