What The Tech: Scary Stalker Website

CHARLOTTE N.C. – We accept that someone, anyone can find us on Facebook. Strangers can see anything you post publicly even if they’re not on Facebook. Other websites have gathered even more information than you’ve given Facebook and they share it publicly for free without your permission.

At first glance, you might think that’s illegal but it isn’t.

Genealogy websites publish millions (maybe billions) of names, addresses, and names of family members, publicly. One free tool is the website www.familytreenow.com which publishes more of your personal information than you’d ever want your closest Facebook friends to see.

You’ll be shocked at what you can find.

By entering a first and last name along with the city where they live, FamilyTreeNow will search public records to return the most likely person you’re looking for. Once you see their name on the list (it shows their birth year too), you can click on their records to find everything about them that’s available in public records.

Cellphone numbers, landline numbers, email addresses, physical addresses, family members’ names, names of people who may be associated with them, and more. The information may go back decades.

When I searched for my name I could see the address of an apartment I lived in for 3 months back in 1997. It even showed a map of the apartment which I could click to see a picture of it.

Under associated people, you may see an ex-spouse or the name of your current spouse’s ex-spouse. If you click on a name you’re taken to their public records database information.

The site is frequently updated and cellphone numbers show they’ve been updated within the past couple of months. If you want to spend $30, you can get even more information such as records of tax liens, traffic tickets, and arrests.

The website is set up it says as a genealogy database. But it can certainly be used by stalkers and fraudsters. There’s nothing illegal either the information is gathered from public records.

You can ask the company to scrub your information by opting out but my experience is that is unlikely. If it is removed it seems to reappear at some point.

Even if you’re not oversharing on social media, the internet does it for you.