A family tree website is causing widespread panic after it was discovered that anyone can type anyone else’s name into the search bar and get a person’s full name, age, and address, as well as their family members’ names, ages, and addresses.
The website first came to the internet’s collective attention after a note was posted to police officer support Facebook page Survive the Streets: A Page for Cops.
“Alert to all LEOs (law enforcement officers) & Family,” the note reads. “There is a website that criminals are using to get information regarding your family and where you live. The site is “familytreenow”… and I went to their site and typed in my name and sure as heck… they have my old address as well as a few of my family members and their information. I didn’t believe it as first, but I typed in my name and state and it found me.”
The warning has gained traction as others have gone to the site only to be horrified by the personal information they were able to easily obtain on not just themselves, but all immediate family members.
Thankfully, there is a way to “opt out” so the website cannot share your personal information with others. FamilyTreeNow.com does provide the instructions for removing your name, but you must follow them exactly.
Some people have had difficulty opting out or have not had an “opt out” option available when they look at their page. If that is the case you can contact the company and request that your information be removed.
However, once all of this is said and done, hoax verifying website Snopes.com warns that you are still not in the clear.
“Your personal information will still be available through the underlying public record sources used by FamilyTreeNow (and others),” they warn. “Those third-party records will still exist and will remain publicly accessible, so the same information provided by FamilyTreeNow will remain available to others, either working on their own or using information aggregators similar to FamilyTreeNow.
“In short, removing your personal information from display by Internet aggregators isn’t a one-time deal, but rather more like a never-ending game of Whack-a-Mole: You might swat down an aggregator site or two, but more of them will inevitably pop up.”
You can continue to search for yourself online and remove your personal information as much as possible, but the sad reality of the Internet Age is that personal information is much easier to come by.
At least now you’ve eliminated one dangerous source.
Are you angry that FamilyTreeNow.com is sharing your personal information for free? So share this!