We tend to go to great lengths to keep ourselves (and our loved ones) safe, trying to maintain at least some level of privacy.

You never know who's out there trying to steal your identity or harm you in some way. Naturally, I was shocked this week to find out that there's a website that's offering up everyone's personal information, all just a single click away.

 

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It's FamilyTreeNow, a website which calls itself a geneology resource.

I looked up my name and without signing up for anything or paying a dime, there was my full name and age, the full names and ages of just about all of my relatives, "known associates," my current address, and previous addresses...not to mention the dates I lived in each place.

And it wasn't just me. I was able to find that info for just about all of my friends and family too.

Sure, it may be a neat way for a long-lost relative to get in touch with me, but not if I don't sign up for that.

There IS a way to remove your records from this site, not that they make it all that easy to figure out how to do that... start by heading to familytreenow.com/optout, then following the directions on that page.

Take note, it could be up to 48 hours before your results are removed from the site. Mine took about 24 hours to come down.

And then I realized that there were more of them...

FamilyTreeNow most easily offered up the information, (and the most detailed info, at that) but whitepages.com, beenverified.com, instantcheckmate.com, spokeo.com, peekyou.com...all there just dying to give my info away to any creeper who clicks on through.

And every time I figured out how to remove my info from one of them, I found another...I literally spent about two hours today trying to get all the listings of my information taken down, and it really seems damn near impossible.

Some of the sites make it much easier to opt out or delete your records than others. Spokeo and BeenVerified were probably the easiest in that regard. The basic Whitepages listing was a little more complicated, (while not telling you that to remove the premium listing you need to e-mail a very specific address, and wait about three days for them to actually do it, if they respond at all.)

Instant Checkmate and Peek You were probably the hardest to remove info from. Instant Checkmate's "expedited" Opt Out form seems easy enough...if you can actually get it to accept your form without claiming you haven't filled out one of the fields -- even if you have. Very frustrating.

Peek You also has an opt-out form, but basically says a specialist will look into your request, and it may take a few days.

And those are just the ones I got to today...there are hundreds of these sites.

It may not seem like a big deal to some folks, but I encourage you to remove your listings.

Anyone who's ever dealt with a stalker, or had to file a restraining order against someone should definitely be aware of this. Scary stuff.

 

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