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Exposed: YOU!

FYI American Consumers: your information is for sale. Don't wait for royalty payments or stock options.

The endless talk about online activity tracking and Facebook non-optional timeline roll out has prompted me to Google myself.  What I found was shocking

With all the privacy policy leaflets coming in the mail, I had the assumption that selling of PII(personal identifiable information) is prohibited by law.  The companies we do business with have to comply with the current privacy laws. While there are now companies that have made a business of invasive data-collection, they are also called online information brokers.  They profit from public records and from other sources disguised as social networking sites.   Right now, Congress has to catch up with the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 to protect American consumers.  A simplified version of the bill is found here.

Take note that I am registered in the Federal Trade Commission do-not-call list and opted out from junk mail offers too. 

Google search results showed: “Find friends like  Tina  at MyLife™. See what Tina has been up to and find other mutual friends online.”

When I went to MyLife™.com the first page that greeted me, without being signed in, was my complete profile basking in all of it’s glory: My complete name, age (gasp ladies!), current and past cities where I lived, my relatives and first 6 digits  of my phone numbers.

“My name is Tina.  I was born in _________. I currently live in ________, Maryland.  Before that, I lived in ________, MD from 1999 to 2001. Before that, I lived in _______,MD from 2002 to 2009.  I am related to ___________.  I am also related to _____ who is __  years old. I am also related to____.... “

I had to squeeze my brain trying to remember if I have ever been so silly to register with the site,  I never did. I was opted in by default and I have to go through the trouble to opt out.  Common sense says anything that is "on" by default is always a security risk.

The public records have all of this information and if someone has a very legitimate interest, they should at least have to do a more diligent research work or spend the money hiring a private investigator to be able to put different aspects of ones life together.  I welcome the searches by possible employers performing background checks, possible creditors or law enforcement.  Aside from the entities mentioned above, who else will look up this information other than people who have less honorable intentions? 

Read the fine print.  MyLife™.com commercials on TV entice viewers to  “find out who is searching for you…" or "rekindle an old friendship….”.   To a casual user, the site looks credible because it has all the logos of respectable news organizations on the first window. One has to look closer to see the fine print with the logos as it says “as seen on.”  It does not necessarily mean that they are endorsed by the news agency. 

TMI: From what I understand, MyLife™.com is trying to present itself as a social networking site.  Isn’t that what Facebook or LinkedIn are used for?   MyLife™.com gives out too much information (name, age, current city, past cities, parents names including other family members) on the first page even without signing in. A cyber crook can put the puzzle together without breaking a sweat. 

As I looked further into the MyLife™.com company, there have been numerous complaints recorded in consumeraffairs.com.  I realized that MyLife™.com used to be reunion.com.  In the beginning reunion.com seemed to be a pretty innocent site to find former batch mates and classmates from school.  Members had the illusion of security because one had to know the name of school and year graduated to access the list former classmates.

Another interesting tidbit, my husband used a different birth date on his Facebook account and MyLife.com has his age based on the year in FB!  He had not used this fake birth date anywhere else.

How to remove your profile from MyLife.com:

1. Take a deep breath.  (At this point you might be shaking with anger at the site for exposing your age.)

2. Do not go directly to mylife.com, as you will be forced to create an account.

Google your legal name and under the search results: look for your mylfe.com profile.  

3.  If you see your profile, call MyLife.Com 1-888-704-1900.  Politely ask to have your profile removed.  Please be kind to the person on the side of the line, she/he is a paid employee and not the mastermind. 

Please advise the technically challenged people (grandma, grandpa, etc.) that you care about to remove their profiles.  Yes, there are people who don’t want to deal with Internet, for a good reason.  Even the deceased came back to life in mylife.com, so be sure to remove the profiles of your loved ones who passed away.

After I removed my profile and went back to Google seach results, I realized that there is a long list of companies selling people’s information.  It is a big hassle to opt-out, one site want a printed form with a picture ID and mailed to them.  As if I would trust them a copy of my picture ID, this will also cost time, effort and stamps just to opt-out.

We the People

Write the legislators tell them what you think about Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011.  American consumers should be protected from “online information brokers.”  It is only fair that:

  • Each person in their database should be provided an opt-out notice, sent through registered mail. 
  • The opt-out notice should clearly state in simple terms that the person’s information is being sold in their website.
  • Provide clear instructions to opt-out.
  • Provide a toll free number for each person to easily opt-out.

The moral of the story is to be more vigilant and pay attention to privacy rights even if you choose to live simply in a cave.

Prevention is always better than a cure. Read up on your Internet Privacy and Security

P.S. Neighbors looking out for each other. I believe that this is the most efficient way I can share my thoughts.  I do not work for the US Federal Trade Commission. Any links provided in this post are to support the facts.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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