Monday, January 14, 2013

UPDATED: Genealogist Beware - Checking Out Genealogy.us.org

I have seen several questions on social networking sites about the seemingly new website, http://genealogy.us.org.  The banner for the site says "Your best choice for genealogy records!"

Here is the home page (two screens):



Under the search box, it says:

"Learn more about the people associated with any Genealogy Records.  When available, our reports include:  Genealogy Records; Photos; Search ancestors; Family History; Family Tree; Birth/Death Records;Military Records; Family Genealogy; Adoption Records; Obituaries."

There's a nice green button that says "Find People Anytime."  Does "anytime" mean any historical person, or now, and another time, and later again?

At the bottom of the page, it says:  "Search Any Name to Get Full Results."  Really?  Full results??  No one gets "full results" searching one website, do they?

So what is this website?  Is it a site that will find actual genealogical records for a real person - living or dead?  Or is it a "find living people" site?  It costs $1 to find out.

I entered the name Isaac Seaver and the state Massachusetts into the search box, and the site found 75 Records (it said...).  I saw this page:


There are eight databases listed there that were, apparently, "searched":

*  Background Database
*  Public Records Database
*  Phone Numbers Database
*  Associates Database
*  State Records Database
*  Nationwide Databases
*  State Criminal Records Database
*  Criminal Records Database

These lines showed on the screen above for a few seconds, and then it quickly showed me this screen:

So for one dollar I can get all of my genealogy problems solved by this website?  That seems like a bargain.  Clicking on the "Show Me My Report" button leads to the payment page where they will charge your credit card $1.00 for their service.  There is a customer support phone number (1-866-434-4253) and the statement:

"If for whatever reason your unhappy with your report please contact customer support for a refund."

There are images of a "Sample Report" on the website.  It wasn't possible for me to magnify those images (you can't save them...) to see what they say.  I think that a "good" genealogy website would encourage you to look at them and provide a way to do so.

Then I realized that the search engine didn't bother with things like birth date, death date, spouse's names, and the like.  How did it ever figure out which Isaac Seaver for whom I was looking for information?

I went to Ancestry.com and did an "exact match" on the name Isaac Seaver.  There are 508 exact matches in the records available on Ancestry.com:


So perhaps Genealogy.us.org doesn't search and find all records?  It found 75, and Ancestry found 507.  And only some of those are for my Isaac Seaver (1823-1901).  What are the odds that Genealogy.us.org found ANY records for my Isaac Seaver (1823-1901)?  My guess is SLIM or NONE.  And I'm not willing to bet even $1 to find out.

Maybe I'm wrong, but this Genealogy.us.org site looks like a "living person records" site that finds phone numbers, addresses, family members, court records, criminal records, etc.  Sites like that have value if that is what a researcher wants.

My conclusion is "Genealogist Beware!!"  Before I pay for anything on this site, I want to know what records it searches, what the report looks like in some detail, and how is it a "genealogy" search engine?  Does it really find birth and death records, military records, etc. for historical persons, or just for living people?  How does it discern one Isaac Seaver from another in Massachusetts?  Is it just a living person finder?  I want to know a LOT MORE about this service before it gets my hard earned dollar (and has my credit card number)!

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/01/genealogist-beware-checking-out.html

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

UPDATED 7 p.m.:  Thomas Macentee commented:

It is very important to read the Terms and Conditions on genealogy.us.org including this paragraph:

"You will receive your report for $1.00. Our customer service phone is 1- 866- 434- 4253. If for whatever reason your unhappy with your report please contact customer support for a refund.

"After you purchase your report for $1.00, you have the option to purchase our volume discount package for $199.50 details below: 


"Services, we offer twelve months of twenty five reports a month for one year to search from millions of records around the United States. By ordering today you are agreeing to the total cost incurred from the payment plan by accepting all ten payments outlined below, and we agree to deliver all services pursuant to these terms. Refund policy, if you are unsatisfied with your order you may cancel your payments and receive a refund on your latest month's charge. Call: 1- 866- 434- 4253. Billing Information: This offer does not automatically renew. $199.50 billed over ten equal monthly payments starting today and prices are subject to change. In addition to our refund policy we also offer a search credit for any unsuccessful search. View a map of participating states click here. You may search for Genealogy Record reports for millions of records around the united states. This offer does not automatically renew. $199.50 billed over ten equal monthly payments starting today . We offer twelve months of twenty five reports a month for one year to search from millions of records around the United States."

http://www.genealogy.us.org/terms.php

I am genea-smacked.  We have to get used to reading the Terms and Conditions on these companies that are trying to "help" us with our research.

Check out the Privacy policies too - http://www.genealogy.us.org/privacy.php.  I'm glad that I didn't register!

My thanks to Thomas for digging this up for us.

UPDATED 15 January, 10 a.m.:  I knew that I had read some posts about this site - and Christine Blythe has been a lone voice in the wilderness until now - see her summary post 

The Saga of Genealogy.us.org and Ancestor.us.org on the Empty Nest Genealogy blog.  Christine has been threatened by the company with legal action.  We need to stand with her and support her.


My apologies to Christine for not linking to her posts when I originally wrote this post.

18 comments:

Michigan Girl said...

Thanks Randy.

Marti said...

I think you are right. My guess is that you would never know if you had the right Seaver either.

A.C. Ivory said...

Agreed! Thanks for sharing, Randy!

Thomas MacEntee said...

It is very important to read the Terms and Conditions on genealogy.us.org including this paragraph:

You will receive your report for $1.00. Our customer service phone is 1- 866- 434- 4253. If for whatever reason your unhappy with your report please contact customer support for a refund.

After you purchase your report for $1.00, you have the option to purchase our volume discount package for $199.50 details below:
Services, we offer twelve months of twenty five reports a month for one year to search from millions of records around the United States. By ordering today you are agreeing to the total cost incurred from the payment plan by accepting all ten payments outlined below, and we agree to deliver all services pursuant to these terms. Refund policy, if you are unsatisfied with your order you may cancel your payments and receive a refund on your latest month's charge. Call: 1- 866- 434- 4253. Billing Information: This offer does not automatically renew. $199.50 billed over ten equal monthly payments starting today and prices are subject to change. In addition to our refund policy we also offer a search credit for any unsuccessful search. View a map of participating states click here. You may search for Genealogy Record reports for millions of records around the united states. This offer does not automatically renew. $199.50 billed over ten equal monthly payments starting today . We offer twelve months of twenty five reports a month for one year to search from millions of records around the United States.

http://www.genealogy.us.org/terms.php

Miss Penelope Dreadful said...

This company might consider using proceeds to hire a proof-reader.

Quite Dreadful!,
Penny D.

Gary Hoffman said...

Right. I would say it fails on grammar alone.

Emily Garber said...

What I think is interesting is the use of a URL with a .org suffix. I mistakenly thought that only nonprofits could use that. But a perusal of Wikipedia disabused me of that notion. Apparently, commercial companies can hide behind the .org URL.

M.J. said...

I've received several unsolicited emails from this "company" over the last week or so. I was also suspicious after taking a look and agree it's a site to avoid.

Anonymous said...

Not to distract from the central point of this post, but please remember that it's important to review the terms and conditions of EVERY online service you think about using. When you click on the button that says, "I have read and agree to the terms and conditions..." that's exactly what it means -- you agree to the terms and conditions. If you don't like them, don't sign up for the site!

Dave L

Gerald Cohail said...

I ran across a link to this site yesterday while searching for a death record for an ancestor who likely died in Oregon. My instinct told me it is one of many fronts for data mining and the sale of publicly available information. So I decided I would find out who owns the site.

The Domain Administrator for "genealogy.us.org" (a subdomain of us.org) is US Registry LLC out of Dover, Delaware. According to website.informer.com, the site is hosted by Amazon.com.

US Registrant LLC appears to be the Registered Agent for Cyber2Media, as the Registrant Email for "genealogy.us.org" is listed as "domains@cyber2.com." (cyber2.com is the website for Cyber2Media Inc, which specializes "in the acquisition, management, and development of multiple high-end web properties. Our collaborative approach to website improvement and administration has led us to be one of the top performing companies in the industry.") They also do business under the following subdomains:

criminalrecords.us.org
dmv.us.org
mugshots.us.org
whitepages.us.org
publicrecords.us.org
courtrecords.us.org
homevalue.us.org
obituary.us.org
phonenumber.us.org
arrestrecords.us.org

Cyber2Media should be more careful regarding who they hire to design their wedsites. The creator of "genealogy.us.org" obviously failed English 101, for the following apears on several pages of the website: "If for whatever reason your [sic] unhappy with your report please contact customer support for a refund." Hopefully, I will be long dead when our language returns to grunts and groans.

Buyer beware!fiedFro 700

JJT said...

In light of those interesting terms of service, I think people might find this description on the http://us.org/ main site humorous:

".us.org is a new domain extension for organizations, projects, websites and people with a higher standard of social responsibility and ethical behaviour."

JJT said...

Also, plenty of people reporting this and other related sites here:

http://www.reviewopedia.com/vehiclehistory-com-reviews?sort=low_rated

A very busy bee.

GeneJ said...

I wanna stand with Christine and Randy! --GeneJ

P.S. In want of a better captcha system.

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL(sm) said...

BE AWARE: For those using ads on your blogs, you may see this company's ads in your posts - and they own more than the two domain names I see listed in Christine's and Randy's posts. I went to Christine's blog to read the posts linked by Randy. The ad displayed at the top of Chrstine's blog post was for a similar us.org domain name. A whois check shows that domain (not entered here so they don't get more publicity) is owned by the same person who owns the two domain names listed in the article.

Kind of ironic to be advertising for the company being described as a scam. I wish I had done a screen grab.

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL(sm) said...

... And apparently the ad displays frequently. I refreshed the page four times and once again got the ad for the domain named owned by the same person as the questionable domains.

Josh said...

Hello,

We are concerned about this problem and would like to fix it for you. Our apologies for any inconveniences caused by our charges. If you would like a refund for the charges made to your account please email manager@recordaccount.com to request immediate action.

Thanks for sharing and we hope to solve this for you soon.

Customer Support

Christine Blythe said...

Just thought I'd update about the legal threats I received from Jason Fraser regarding my posts about this company.

I've never heard another word since that original threatening email, so to me that illustrates more than anything that we've hit the nail on the head.

These are sites to avoid.

Karmen Jones said...

Hello, Our sincerest apologies about your recent experience. We appreciate your feedback and would like to make things right, please contact Karmen via email at manager@recordaccount.com so we can help you obtain a refund for charges you have incurred.