How much do you think someone could find out about you with a few simple online searches? You might be surprised and potentially dismayed.
Basically, with a few simple name and address searches, you can find out a lot!
I searched on my married name and found my maiden name, spouse’s and childrens names, my phone number, address, age, value of my house, as well as the amount of real estate taxes owed and paid. I found my company name tied to my address, my past profession and what I probably made working in it. I found pictures and descriptions of my house, including the number of square feet I have and a view of my trees in the back yard!
Here are a few of the highlights and places I went in my search.
County government real estate and or property tax searches.
By googling my county and state I found the county web site and then went to the assessor’s page and located the real estate tax information. Many counties in the USA now use geographical information system (GIS) databases to organize their tax information for online viewing. Although not official records, they seem pretty accurate for my data! You can sometimes even find out about personal property owned and taxes owed on it as well, including the make and model of your vehicles!
If your neighbor’s aren’t paying their taxes, that will show up as well. Really, do my neighbor’s need to know my tax payment history?
People Finders, plus others.
There are multiple search engines that will find a person for you online, either through their name or phone number (not cell or unlisted though). To me this one is most disturbing, although the data returned is based on public records. Your age, marriage partner and children are pulled up with your name along with a history of places you have lived all for free. But, you can get even more for a couple of bucks:
For $1.95 you can get:
- Full name
- Phone Number
- Age & Date of Birth
- Up to 40-Year Address History
For $39.95 you can get:
- Full name
- Phone Number
- Age & DOB
- Address History
- Marriage / Divorce
- Birth / Death
- Sex Offender Check
- Criminal Check
Download the Google earth app onto your pc and you can view the world from your couch. Go to Google maps and type in the address city, state and zip. Google will kindly place you on the map and by clicking on ‘Earth’ it lets you look at the house or property, from above and all around. They do blur out license plate numbers of cars parked in the driveway though. If someone has uploaded pictures, you can see those as well.
Google Maps also lets you go to satellite view. Click back to ‘Map’ and then click on satellite. You can check out what your neighbor has parked around the back of their house and zoom in from the top to get more detail. Then you can go to street view to see what else was there the day the picture was taken!
Internet search on the address.
In the search results, Zillow and Trulia will pop up and show pictures of your house and what it might be worth. You’ll see when the house was built, how many square feet it has, what it might be worth in rent per month, how many bedrooms and bathrooms there are, how big the lot is and more.
Manta.com will tell you if a business is run from the home and what it’s name is.
If you know some things (enough to narrow search results) and your neighbor has a Linked In profile, you can view the public part of it without even signing in. My public profile shows a summary of my professions past and present, the city and state in which I live, my websites and my skills and expertise. By searching the public profile, I saw my project management professional certification and then went to payscale.com to see what a pmp typically earns. Vioila, now you know your neighbor’s approximate salary.
Pretty scary right? We are adding to the online databases every day, of our own free volition as well as by more and more public records being brought online by our governments and other businesses.
Do you think there should be restrictions in the kinds of data that can be aggregated by online sites? How easy do we really want it to be to find out all about someone with a few simple searches?