Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What does Spokeo Know About You?

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Hey there, genea-philes - it's Saturday Night -- time for more Genealogy Fun!!

I'm always on the lookout for websites that can find living people.  I read about Spokeo this week and thoguht that I would try it out.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Go to Spokeo - www.spokeo.com and put in your name (or any name). 

2)  See what Spokeo says about you.  Is it accurate? 

3)  Share what you want to share with us in a blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook, or in a Stream post on Google Plus.

Here's mine (complete with some screen captures):

I went to www.spokeo.com and entered my name as Randall Seaver.  It found people with that name in six places:


I figured that I was the one in California, so I clicked on the blue stick pin in Southern California.  The to of the next page is:


This screen tells me the following:

*  Gender:  Male (correct)
*  Age:  Late 60s (correct)
*  Phone:  (right area code and prefix, number hidden, correct as far as I can tell)
*  Address: (right street, number hidden, correct as far as I can tell)
*  Location:  Chula Vista, California (correct)

In the bottom half of the screen above, there are boxes for different items, including:

*  Male (correct)
*  Late 60's (correct)
*  Married (correct)
*  Residence: Single Family (correct)
*  Home Value: $362L (approximately correct)
*  Hobbies: Travel, Cooking (not exactly!)
*  Ethnicity:  African-American (um, wrong according to DNA testing)
*  Zodiac: Libra (I've always thought I was a Scorpio)
*  Politics:  no info
*  Religion:  Protestant (correct)
*  Education:  no info
*  Occupation:  no info

For any of these boxes, if you click on them or a link you are taken to the subscription page.  Presumably, if you pay up, they will provide this information.

Further down the page is a Google Street View picture of my property...but it's the north edge of the property fronting on the street below - a hillside.  Further down are lines for the property information, but it's not filled in.

The next section is Family:




It says that I have seven family members.  There's myself, my wife, my two daughters, and my deceased mother.  The ages are approximately correct.  They added another entry for my wife and one of my daughters (and got her age wrong).

Below that is the Wealth section.  A dial shows my economic health as tending toward low and there is no indicator on the Wealth bar.  I think that these are generic, not exact.  Below that is the Lifestyles and Interests section, and it is difficult to figure out what the symbols mean - again, this is generic without paying the fee.

Next is the Astrological information, then the Photos and Videos (generic, not my photos), the Social Networks (generic), and the Neighborhood (generic, not accurate).

It is apparent that, in order to get the full information set, that you need to subscribe ($2.95 per month for 12 months, $3.95 per month for 6 months, $$4.95 per month for three months).  That is pretty cheap compared to some of the other living person information websites. 

I tried my brothers, my daughters, and several geneabloggers (heh heh) and it found almost everyone.  It didn't list my grandchildren, however. 

I am curious as to their sources and accuracy of the information.  The disclaimer at the bottom of the page says:

"All data offered is derived from public sources. Spokeo does not verify or evaluate each piece of data, and makes no warranties or guarantees about any of the information offered. Spokeo does not possess or have access to secure or private financial information. Spokeo is not a credit reporting agency and does not offer consumer reports. None of the information offered by Spokeo is to be considered for purposes of determining any entity or person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, or for any other purposes covered under the FCRA."

I believe that we all need to be aware of the various services available on the Internet and the information that each site might provide.  If I was looking for long lost relatives, or supporting a family reunion or class reunion, this might be a good investment.

14 comments:

kbea831 said...

That was interesting. I'm not in there at all but my husband is but there is very little information at all. I looked other family members up and they have quite a bit of information that is mostly correct. Kind of scary and kind of interesting from a genealogy perspective.

Genealady said...

I've seen this site before, and while it may only make available public data, it still creeps me out, honestly. It may be good for finding distant relatives or long-lost friends, but I can only think of the negative ways this could be used to stalk or harass someone as well. I guess I'm just a downer!

Martin said...

Too scary for words. I'm not on Facebook, but they have my birthday and my last four addresses. Again, the uniqueness of my name is such that I'm the only one in the U.S.

Sharon said...

Thanks Randy.

You made my day. I just checked Spokeo and found out that my house is worth 10 times what I paid for it 4 years ago. Whoopee!

Of course, I'm going to have to change my church, politics, age, zodiac sign and education, but you can't win'em all.

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

A bit like Sharon, some of the information is 'right on' - some is not close. Of course, you need to enter: William Smith - thousands of entires; but city and street name get you quite a bit. Obviously some from Facebook. Other facts from who knows where. Has a several years old photo of house; but 'value' is off by a factor of 5-10. Mostly, to ask for any more details, they ask for a fee. Pretty much useless, and rip-off; one opinion. ;-)

GeneGinny said...

OK. That was entertaining. Thanks for a good laugh, Randy. Under my married name, I'm married to "Father" and have 4 children, including my husband by his first and middle names (counts for 2 kids!). Under my maiden name, which I still use professionally, I'm still in my 30s and have elderly parents. Considering that my parents died in 1978 and 1996, that was a surprise to me!

John said...

I find it interesting that they have me at two addresses, neither of which I have lived at since 2000. Though the phone number they have at both locations is for my current address.

Their information for Chinese Zodiac is more accurate than the placemats at some Chinese restaurants. That is, I was born in January, prior to the Chinese New Year, and it knows to group me in the previous year's sign.

It says I am Protestant, to which I protest I am not.

genie holt said...

Very creepy but interesting. Some stuff wrong - we had three in our household but discovered I was listed twice (first and second name). My husband was listed both with me and his ex-wife in another town, but she was listed as a male and single. Too weird for words, really.

Lynn said...

It was entertaining, but not very accurate other than address and phone. My hobbies are cooking (I hate to cook) and I am Catholic (really Protestant), and some other differences. My 90-year-old parents home is listed as $1M -- though it's a very standard mobile home in a mobile home park. Ha! Good for a laugh, though. I'll have to tell them what their place is worth!

Elizabeth said...

That was fun. So many people have my name I had to know which one I was. Spokeo listed me in the condo that I sold 3 years ago, but had my age and zodiac correct. The strange part was, it said my mother, with her correct name, lived with me. She died several years ago and never lived in that zip code.

GrannyPam said...

There were many Pamela Warrens, and 33 in Michigan. However, none of those is Michigan was me. I guess not having a listing the phone directory (no home phone) limits info available easily. And what they seem to be selling is public information, available elsewhere free.

Elizabeth said...

Randy, I just used spokeo (to check ages), along with Yahoo white pages (phone numbers) to find and cold call possible cousins in my MANESS family. These ladies in their late 80s didn't know much about their grandparents, but mentioned a book I haven't seen yet. Every clue helps - thanks for the idea!

Julie said...

That was interesting. They were pretty spot on. This is what I shared in my blog http://wp.me/p1KdEb-5A

Apple said...

They got some of my information right and lots more wrong and seem to have information on every place I've lived going back to 1989. What I found troubling was that it listed my "Research Interests." If genealogy had come up I wouldn't have been surprised but I'm troubled by how they know what some of them are. Are they obtaining info from Google or just making good guesses?