Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Zabasearch; Intelligus

Most people have run their names through google.com to see what pops up. Maybe a family tree; maybe one’s Facebook page; maybe a mention in media. It’s worth running to see the results in case anyone else tries the same search.
Ever tried www.zabasearch.com?
The results are revealing, and that’s what scares me. Age. Phone number. Current address. Previous address. A link to www.intelligus.com for more information.
At a previous position a few years ago, I refused to tell a co-worker my age. He simply ran me through www.intelligus.com and then told me my age. Nice.
In Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger went back in time to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor so she wouldn’t give birth to John Connor, who ultimately won the war against Skynet and the machines. Schwarzenegger didn’t have Sarah Connor’s contact information; he only knew she lived in or near Los Angeles. So he looked up “Sarah Connor” in the L.A. phone book and hunted down each listing. I don’t believe a Terminator is coming after me, but I am concerned about contact information being even more readily available. Obviously, zabasearch.com is a lot more accurate than a phone book. A few years ago, I read a magazine article about a guy who didn’t like being so easily identified, either. So he worked hard at disappearing, legally. He unlisted his phone number and had mail delivered to a private rented box. Since it wasn’t a PO box, he could list it as his “street address” without people knowing it wasn’t real. He registered a shell company (legal) that owned his home and his car so his name couldn’t be traced to them. He advised against voter registration and entering any contests/sweepstakes, as they are just market research tactics designed to allow companies to learn more about the entrants.
I am a big proponent of voter registration, but it is a problem for me that it makes one’s address a matter of public record. (Hollywood stars get around this by registering at their agents’ downtown offices.) I registered my name and email address at zabasearch.com so it emails me anytime someone runs my name. Thankfully, Zabasearch can’t figure out where I live. It’s just a few steps behind. HA! The only reason it has my Fitch Avenue address is because I connected a land line for dial-up use for a few months and didn’t bother to have it unlisted. In terms of hiding one’s real street address: I do have a real problem with the three huge credit-reporting agencies being in possession of that information. With identity theft being the scourge it is, I don’t believe we’re safe in a situation in which anyone with a few pieces of information about someone suddenly has access to so much more.

1 comment:

Jeremy Stamper said...

Ken, I share your concerns about the dangers inherant with regard to personal information in the age of the internet. However, it should be pointed out that protecting one's personal information is the responsibility of the individual. People must be proactive from a very early age to protect their information because, as you know, once its out there, you can't put the genie back in the bottle. That being said, I believe that companies like Zabasearch provide a valuable service to consumers of information, the vast majority of whom are not identidy thieves. My own company, PersonRatings, is dealing with balancing many of these issues as we attempt to provide a platform to rate & review any American.