COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Anyone can go to a website called FamilyTreeNow.com and find personal information on you, such as who your relatives are and all of your past and current addresses.
If that doesn’t scare you, one computer expert said it should.
“It’s just really a breeding ground for criminals to be able to go in and access that information,” said computer expert Danelle Osborne.
FamilyTreeNow.com is only one of more than 2,500 websites that collects your personal information.
A lot of the time, it can be traced back to what you buy.
Say you go in to Target and buy a baby shower gift.
“They then sell that information to data miners who then exploit the fact you have just made baby purchases, so you go on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and you randomly see the same purchases, or related to the day before,” said Osborne.
This goes way beyond target marketing for sites like Facebook. It can also pose real world dangers.
“Especially those that have been in abusive relationships or those that have sensitive careers, such as police officers, judges,” Osborne said.
It’s dangerous for those people in particular, because someone can use FamilyTreeNow.com to get their address to retaliate, or stalk them.
It goes beyond that.
By having all of your family member’s names, someone can start to guess your passwords.
Osborne said people regularly make their passwords related to their family.
“Having that information can potentially get them into your bank account. It could potentially get them into opening up credit cards and all kinds of things that can be damaging to you. It just takes one bad person to get onto a website, go to a data mining website, purchase your information and use your information maliciously,” said Osborne.
All of this data mining is 100 percent legal and there isn’t a lot you can do, but what you can do is opt out from the websites.
To opt out of FamilyTreeNow.com, follow this link.
To opt out of the other top 50 websites that collect your information, follow this link.