Updated 10/11/2011: Although TrueRep does have paid features, we’ve learned that it’s free to suppress your data from appearing on Intelius and three of its partner sites. Suppression is limited to your two most recent addresses and one phone number, and it doesn’t extend to Intelius’s other partner and affiliate sites, such as Zabasearch, PeopleLookUp, and USSearch.
Intelius, which collects and sells your data, recently launched a new company called TrueRep that you pay to, among other online reputation services, view your own data. Take a second to wrap your head around that.
We’ll break it down for you:
2. Intelius sells your personal information to anyone who wants it on its network of background check sites, which includes Zabasearch, USSearch, PeopleLookUp, LookUpAnyone.com, and PublicRecords.com
3. If you pay for a subscription to TrueRep, Intelius will then let you manage the way your information appears on its network of sites.
They worsen your privacy problem; you go to them to fix it. Does that make sense?
And here’s the icing on the cake: you’re required to log in with your Facebook account.
That’s right: it’s like the Spotify controversy, but with a whole other layer of privacy problems. TrueRep explains,
TrueRep protects you from others who may want to claim your identity. Therefore, it is required that you verify your identity through signing in to your Facebook account.
(emphasis in original).
First of all, it’s a total non-sequitur to say that having a Facebook account is at all related to protecting your identity. If anything, having a Facebook account makes you more vulnerable to identity theft. The FBI even has a name for identity thefts carried out through social networks: “identity theft social engineering.” It’s more effective than other forms of identity theft because it often comes through our Facebook friends, whom we’re more likely to trust.
Then I signed my cat, who has the very distinguished name of Lance, into TrueRep with Facebook Connect:
And right away, my cat was a TrueRep member. So the whole part about requiring you to sign in with a Facebook account as some protective measure against “others who may want to claim your identity” is, pardon our French, total crap. We realize that Intelius wants to use some form of identity verification, but Facebook connect–at least in its current form–isn’t cutting it.
Intelius, one of the biggest databases of background check information, is no stranger to privacy-related complaints: their network of sites has come under fire for deceptive marketing, unauthorized charges to customers’ credit cards, having inaccurate data (although this might be a good thing for those of us worried about our privacy), not honoring opt-out requests, and having a complicated opt-out process.
If you want to opt yourself out of their databases, and those of many other similar sites, we wrote a page explaining how to do it yourself for free.
What do you think? Would you trust TrueRep with your personal information? How do you feel about sites that require you to log in with Facebook connect?