Too Much Information: Site has your personal info - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Too Much Information: Site has your personal info

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

With just a couple of mouse clicks and in a few seconds, there is very personal information about you available to almost anyone.

Spokeo.com is a website that compiles information from various other sources on the internet including phone books and social networking sites and makes it all available in one place.

Their slogan is "not your grandma's White Pages." WTOC decided to test the site out with people in Savannah.

Ruthie was sitting outside a downtown coffee shop when she agreed to let WTOC enter her name into the site's search. Within seconds, her hobbies, a picture of her house, and detailed information about her family was available.

"I understand where it got some of the information like my hobbies from Facebook, but I never put anywhere that I live in a wood frame house," Ruthie said.

Her friend Taylor also agreed to have her name searched on Spokeo.

At first she wasn't surprised to find her address and family information. But then the site revealed her salary.

"I wasnt' expecting it to say economic wealth. That is nobody's business," Taylor said.

Spokeo says it gathers most of its information from social network sites like Facebook.

So what did it come up with on a person with virtually no online presence?

A man named Elliot agreed to let WTOC try the site on him. He says he doesn't participate in any social networking.

Spokeo revealed his address, the names of his children, and the value of his home.

"I hate this. I think privacy is an issue. Anybody can look up my name and know my family. For safety and security reasons - I hate this," Elliot said.

Computer expert Eric Sharpe said personal information is a big business for sites like Spokeo.

"It's all about money. It might be about information to you and me, but it's being sold in the background," Sharpe said.

According to Sharpe, Spokeo gets their information from advertisers.

"Most of it comes from Facebook. When you sign up for free games or whatever, they buy your information and then it is sold to Spokeo," Sharpe said.

The databases search for new information every day. Sharpe said that one way consumers can protect themselves is by changing certain parts of their online identity.

"I suggest maybe using an alias. That's a good way to hide things. You could also change your birth date or change your address. It doesn't have to be exact," Sharpe said.

Taking your listing off of Spokeo is actually fairly simple.

Just go to the site, scroll to the bottom, click on privacy, and then enter your information. They'll send you a confirmation email and they say your profile will be deleted.

WTOC tried to contact Spokeo, but the emails were not returned.

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