Sunday, March 27, 2011

Been verified or privacy danger?

You may have heard the TV ads offering yo the chance to do a background search on someone, a friend, a potential date, etc.

We looked into BeenVerifed and became more alarmed than excited.

1. An associate ran the free background check on herself and found that the criminal record of her ex-husbands daughter was tagged as her.

2. My information was 12 years out of date and reported me as listed on several social sites, I've never visited.

3. They post two different versions of their Terms & Conditions. The T&C from their home page link, has different wording than the one posted through their sitemap link.

4. Their privacy policy states they now have permission to telemarket you, even if you are on the do-not-call list.

5. Their privacy policy states " even where a Member unsubscribes from all of our lists, we cannot guarantee that such Member will never receive another mailing from us".

6.  Their privacy policy states that "we must gather personal information from Members through our Registration Form. The Registration Form may or may not require submission of the following information: (a) e-mail address; (b) full name; (c) company name; (d) date of birth; (e) a Member-specified password; (f) mailing address; (g) credit card information; and (h) any and all information associated with the Searched Subject (such as name, address, social security number)"

They did not clarify if this social security number requirement is necessary when you search yourself. They would then have all your financial and identifying information for potential identity theft.

7. More from the Privacy Policy: "Any personal information that you submit at the Site remains your property. However, by submitting that information to us, you grant to us the right to use your personal information" . The even reference sharing your mobile phone number and email address with their partners.

8. They have a long paragraph as to whom they are going to share your personal data with and take no responsibility for how those people then use your data.

9. They state: "You may not use any of our information as a factor in establishing an individual's eligibility for personal credit, insurance or assessing risks associated with existing consumer credit obligations." 

You know people will.

10. The offer a free trial with a $2 authorization on your credit card, a state:"Authorizations are immediately voided and canceled upon signup." What if you don't sign up? $2 may seen like a so-what charge, however, $2 from hundreds of thousands of people sure adds up. You wouldn't take the time to challenge them for the refund, and they have added a protection clause for themselves in (one of) their T&C, stating you cannot support a class action lawsuit which might have the potential clout to stop the pilfering. 
note: On another blog a user posted: You can have a 7 day "trial" period if you join with a $50 membership fee!"

11. They now have a i-Phone app so you can conduct background check on the go. On another blog, one posted commented that this is great for the busy stalker.

The bottom line:

You can't prevent these type of companies from scraping the internet to gather public records on people, and then selling it.

You can be aware of what part you play in the picture when you sign up for these services.

Privacy is a constant and growing concern.  Online privacy even more so.  

Simply, take time to read the T&C and Privacy policies of the websites you sign up for. Be aware enough to make every effort to stay away from supporting those sites that could be a problem for you in the future.


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