Is Spokeo a Scam?

Background:

You can’t go a few days without seeing a viral Facebook status about the website Spokeo.com and how they are exploiting your “private” information for their financial gain.

There is no doubt that you’ve seen a status update similar to this come across your feed:

Essentially the “Goal” of the status update is to inform you of the website Spokeo and the supposed “evils” it is doing by listing your private information and how you can go about removing it.  There is something very suspicious about the whole operation.

First of all, who started the “Warning” Status Update?

Like most “viral” statuses it is nearly impossible to tell who started it.  However, this is a huge point of concern…. If Spokeo themselves started it – which cannot be proven… It would indicate they are attempting to get people to come to their website to learn of their capabilities through an initial scare tactic.  Once on their website there is a variety of ways for which Spokeo could gain.

For example, the general public’s reaction when they see this “WARNING” is to remove their private information and then search for their friends & family.  What Spokeo could potentially gain is the chance that you might want to search for more information on a person and sign-up for one of their paid plans.  Or perhaps purchase one of the “Reputation Defender / Privacy” services that they advertise on their website.

Even more scary is that some people and news agencies, are speculating Spokeo allows requests to remove information as an email collecting ploy. Consider this, you are willfully giving them a correct, possibly private, email address in an attempt to remove often erroneous information that is public anyway.  This may result in your personal e-mail being sold along with the public information you requested to be removed from their website.

Where did they get your information from?

Well, that is an interesting story. The sad truth is they really could have got it from anywhere.  Wikipedia gives this broad definition, Spokeo utilizes deep web crawlers to aggregate data.  Perhaps they downloaded the torrent file with over 100 million public Facebook profile pages.  There is no telling exactly where they got your information, the fact is they’ve got it and they have no problem sharing it with the world.

What should I do?

1. Safely Opt-Out of their Website.  Simply follow the steps on this video:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HovtsPLSFco[/youtube]

2. Sign-up for a Reputation Defending website to help you monitor your personal information.  Even Spokeo recommends you do this.

3. Keep a close eye on your credit report. Recommendation: FICO Credit Reports and Monitoring Choices

4. Most importantly, modify the privacy settings on your social networks to reflect the highest level of privacy.

So, is Spokeo a Scam?

We leave that decision to you.

Definition of Scam: A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, esp. for making a quick profit; swindle. (source: dictionary.com)

Post what you think of Spokeo in the comments below.

Resources & Further Reading:

Spokeo Wikipedia | Spokeo Facebook Fan Page | Spokeo.com | Spokeo Blog on themselves being purported as a scam

Who’s behind Spokeo?  Check TechCrunch.  Their latest article proclaims: ” There’s Absolutely Nothing You Can Do About Spokeo, So Stop Whining

Company Contact Info:
556 S. Fair Oaks Ave.
Suite # 101-179
Pasadena, CA 91105
Phone: 626-921-6632

Hours: Mondays – Fridays, 8am – 5pm (PST)
Email: support@spokeo.com
https://www.spokeo.com/contact