A friend just sent me this email about Zabasearch.com and cc’d all of her friends. If you receive an email like this, please read these tips. The information in the rest of this blog posting may help you as well:
Beginning this month (JULY ’06) a new database will be available to the
general public free of charge that displays your personal information
(names, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates). (Soc. Sec. is available
for a price.) The database is found at http://www.zabasearch.com/ type
in your name and check ... you'll be SHOCKED as I was!
I urge you to forward this email to family and friends. Check to see if
your name and information is in their database. If so and you want it
removed, send them an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to request it be
removed. I do not know how our names are appearing there, but I checked
my own and a few other random ones and they are all in this database!
After opting out by email, check back after a few days to make certain
your information has been removed. If it has not been removed then file
a complaint with your State's Attorney General.
Snopes.com – the great urban legend website – notes this is true, that ZabaSearch has culled together information from many sources on people to make money off of your personal information – or who may want to impersonate you, in an online personal for example. Snopes’ investigation into ZabaSearch is very interesting and also has details on how to write to ZabaSearch to request them to suppress your information.
A report by 10News.com points out the negative of requesting removal – namely you may be giving them more info on you than they already had.
Intelius appears to power much of the search results. You may note that alongside the ability to search for people based on SSN they offer identity protection services. As I heard once on I Love Lucy "As the man said when he backed into the stove: ‘That’s a hot one!’"
While I will transparently mention that Zone Labs has partnered with IdentityGuard, if you are tempted to get any credit monitoring or fraud protection services after seeing this new heinous people search engine, IdentityGuard would seem to have more credibility in terms of wanting to protect consumers than a company that enables people to search for personal data on people. That’s just my opinion.
But wait, there’s more.
They’ve developed an email service that lets you send a mail to a friend without an account.
The catch? Your email is posted on ZabaSearch. one of the smallest fonts possible they tell you "Your message will be published on ZabaSearch." OK sure "Your name and email will not be displayed. If you would like to have your name and contact information seen, it must be included in your message."
But what if a naive user (my mother) runs into this, decides to use it, and includes personal info in the message. Oops sorry Mom! Didn’t you see the disclaimer?
IMPORTANT TIPS REGARDING ZABASEARCH:
- Do not forward the email about Zabasearch for several reasons:
1) It could foward spyware or viruses.
2) The more people who know about Zabasearch the more dangerous it is. The standard rule is: If any email says "Forward to everyone you know" don’t forward it to anyone. These chain-emails are like viral worms, because forwarding it makes *you* the source of propogation — it no longer needs to self-repilcate since so many computer users are willing to do so instead.
3) Your email address may be included as the email gets forwarded, exposing more people to your personal info.
- Make sure you do not search your SSN or birthday in case they are also doing the service of capturing typed in information.
- You can probably assume you are listed in
their DB and per the information in the Snopes article linked below,
you can request them to remove you. However you may not want to, as they require extensive personal info about you to remove your name.
- Do not use ZabaSearch’s email service to send email unless you specifically want your messages posted publicly on the Internet for all to see. That is the purpose, it appears, of this email system. 0 privacy.
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has a useful page with information on how to opt out from being included in listings from various online data vendor and data information brokers.