Is PeekYou Evil?

Category: Search-Engines

I recently heard about a 'people search' website called PeekYou, and when I searched for myself, I was shocked at the personal information they had compiled about me. Can you explain how they do this, and if I should really be concerned?

PeekYou - A People Search Engine

PeekYou.com bills itself as "the smartest way to find people online." But after looking for myself and some friends on PeekYou, I beg to differ. PeekYou is a Web search engine, like Google or Bing. Using its "algorithmic" secret sauce, PeekYou tries to estimate the probability that a set of particulars or a Web page belongs to a particular person. Don't ask me how it works. It did find my personal domain and several other Web sites that I maintain or have worked on over the years.

PeekYou also listed several cities in which I have lived, in some cases with partially obscured street addresses and phone numbers. This real-world information is where PeekYou and its partners make their real money. Clicking on one of the partially obscured records seemed like the natural thing to do. That took me to a new Web site run by Intelius, a public records aggregator. These firms buy billions of personal records from public sources - property records, court records, motor vehicle departments, voter registrations, etc. - and data from utilities, phone companies, the U. S. Postal Service change-of-address database, and other sources.
PeekYou People Search

Of course, aggregators buy data so that they can charge you for it. For only 95 cents, I could get all 131 "People Search" records associated with my name. Each record includes name, most recent address and address history, date of birth, phone number (if available), and potential relatives. A $14.95 day pass would let me search for unlimited persons and download their reports in a 24 hour period. A $39.95 "background report" would include property records, criminal history, bankruptcies, liens, judgments, lawsuits, even a death certificate record. I'm hoping that only ONE of those items wouod show up in my report. :-)

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

PeekYou also turned up a bunch of erroneous information, linking me to people, websites and addresses that are just completely wrong. A couple of people I don't know have tagged my Peekyou profile with their aliases.

It seems that PeekYou is just a honey-pot, a lure to draw visitors into its search engine where, hopefully, they will take the bait and pay one of PeekYou's partners for public records. Intelius is one of the leading public records aggregators. USSearch is another, and it charges similar fees. Spokeo is a third aggregator, but it charges by the month of use.

Some people are concerned that searching for their name on PeekYou reveals details they assumed were private. This includes their address, and in some cases an interactive map which pinpoints their home address. Other details can include links to your Facebook and Twitter profiles, names of relatives, and previous addresses. There's nothing criminal about aggregating the public records needed to create a profile of an individual. I would stop sort of calling it "evil" but the privacy implications of for-hire data aggregators are significant.

For less than ten bucks, a stalker may be able to track down his or her victim using just a name and some educated guesses. Of course, there are less alarming, legitimate uses for people-finders. Employment background checks, finding missing heirs, skip tracing, and just hooking up with high school pals are some examples.

I would not recommend PeekYou over Google for finding someone's online traces. But if you need to locate a person in the real world, and are willing to spend some money, public records aggregators are sometimes a viable (but not infallible) option.

Tell me what you think about PeekYou. Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 6 Jul 2011


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Most recent comments on "Is PeekYou Evil?"

Posted by:

Edward Ronish
06 Jul 2011

Intellius is a scam. They collect real data and bogus data and send it all to you. I asked them to track down a phone number, and they gave me information that was completely wrong, and they refused to refund.


Posted by:

Peter
06 Jul 2011

I have a fairly unique name, sharing only first and last name in the US with my nephew. PeekYou got most of the information correct, including my participation in sporting events.
FWIW, I personally much prefer using whitepages.com (I have no connection with them, other than being a user.) Much easier to find listed home addresses and phone numbers. Their iPhone app has replaced any phone directory I used previously. (NOTE to editor: feel free to edit this comment as needed for anything that's too much like an endorsement.)


Posted by:

Bob
07 Jul 2011

After reading your item on PeekYou, I went to that site and there I was. They had EVERYTHING on me!! They indicated they had an OptOut form that one fills out to get removed from their files. But it does not work. The "submit" button appears to be fake or disconnected. There appears no way to contact them nor legal leverage to get their attention. Got any suggestions, Bob?

EDITOR'S NOTE: The "Report Abuse" link is working for me. I just zapped an imposter pretending to be me.


Posted by:

ciro .m
07 Aug 2011

LAWSSSSSSSSSSUUUUUUUIIIIIIITTT !!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by:

ANGRY
16 Nov 2011

Yes, I would like to join a lawsuit against PEEK YOU. I have sent numerous emails to them requesting they remove my personal information, which has already been removed from the Primary web sites they have picked up the information from. They have an OPTOUT POLICY AND PRIVACY PLEDGE posted on their web site and do not honor it. I am very ANGRY with this company.


Posted by:

RESPECT MY PRIVACY
13 Mar 2012

Peek you and other "partners" such as Intellius and People Search to name a few are awful and violate people's privacy - my information and name is all over the site ( some information is correct and some incorrect yet if anyone were to check it would still point to me) What is alarming is that I do not use Facebook, MySpace or Twitter - so I do not understand how they received my information. The easy access of my information has put myself and children in harms way. I contacted Intelius to remove my information - they said they would but I had to send them a copy of my driver license and that there was no guarantee that in 6 months the information would not be back on the website.
HELP! I just want my name, age, addresses removed.


Posted by:

Laura
14 Mar 2012

yes, there needs to be a lawsuit filed against peekyou.com.

I tried to get info removed from the 'front page' and they said there was nothing they could do about it..that it was all part of the search process. My info is not on the actual site (ex: Intellius) b/c I opted out, yet it still shows up on peekyou.

Lawsuit!!


Posted by:

Caegan
25 May 2012

peekyou.com seems an off-shoot of spokeo.
You can remove yourself on Spokeo .... look at bottom of page in
muted letters for 'Privacy'.

Open a note, go through Spokeo and look everyplace you have ever lived or owned property or gone to school etc. and create a list of the URLs for each listing.

Create a gmail etc account just for this sort of purpose.

In the Privacy page of Spokeo, scroll down and enter the URL of
a listing you want removed. They ask for an email. You then go
to email and click on the hyperlink to complete the process.

Spokeo will let you remove 3 to 4 listings before they give you a message that govt regs limit how many can do. So keep your list, wait a few days, and try again with any remaining listings you want gone.
NOTE: They are VERY sneaky. I did this with my actual middle name in place only to find on this new pass that they had used another associated family name as the middle name. Also, if you leave a 'straggler', they retain old listings they've said they removed. So it's important to be meticulous, going back to double check later.


Posted by:

Should be ILLEGAL
04 Jul 2012

I just checked out Peek You and was shocked. How the hell can they get away with this. I don't want ALL my personal info on their damn site. If someone finds a way to get rid of it I'd love to hear about it.


Posted by:

Anonymous
31 Aug 2012

Hello, Everyone the phone number to peekyou.com doesn't work, but he can blast all our phone numbers all over the site. So here is all his info. Take that!

Michael Hussey
(XXX) XXX-XXXX
XX Xxxxxx Rd
Xxxxxxx, XX XXXXX

I suggest people start looking up his info and buying all his address and phone information and putting it all over the net so people can complain to him and the bad business they have.

EDITOR'S NOTE: BAD IDEA! Especially for a person who posts anonymously. I obscured the info you posted above, for that reason. Remember, the PeekYou database is just a compilation of PUBLIC record sources.


Posted by:

Gracie
26 Nov 2012

I think they are evil. I have not even been successful in removing any of my information. You are supposed to enter the Identifying #. Well, I cut and paste the number, and it was not accepted. I do not care if this is a compilation of public records. I did not ask that these public records be compiled in the first place. Beyond evil.


Posted by:

Anonymous
31 Dec 2012

Michael Hussey of PeekYou.com is a SCAM artist.
Artist is to good a word for him as Artists create and Michael Hussey is a content and identity thief.


Posted by:

Anonymous
04 Jan 2013

Michael Hussey of PeekYou is a Scammer. He wont delete your data because he needs to use it to scam for adsense money. hence why he lies and forces you to be listed on his scam adsense identity theft website. if you want to file a lawsuit against peekyou.com its better to file the lawsuit directly against Michael Hussey in his name.


Posted by:

imagine
05 Jan 2013

Agree completely. Been trying unsuccessfully to at least have them update their pages about me, since they display personal info that I've seen had removed, and I can't get more than an auto-response from them.

The owner Michael Hussey is a class A jerk. He has time to tweet all day but can't have someone follow up on my simple request to update the pages that have old info on me. And this is AFTER I took the steps to Opt-out in the way his website tells you to.

I've also personally messaged Michael Hussey on Facebook to no avail. Should be illegal what scum like him does.

Who wants to start a class action suit? I'm in.


Posted by:

Marc
28 May 2013

I wanted to comment that I attempted to get my information removed from both sites I found it next to impossible. For one site I actually would have to join their monthly service so that I can modify my profile which contained inaccurate information as well as an unlisted phone number and other information I didn't want the public to have access to. On another site they made it next to impossible telling me I have to send fax them a letter with my information such as birth date and other information that I didn't feel save to give out to them in order for them to delete my profile. I still have no idea how they obtained my unlisted phone number or even my cell phone number but now that they have this information I cannot remove it without either joining and deleting this information or jumping through unreasonable hoops and divulging further details about me in order to get my information removed. I consider this a form of extortion.


Posted by:

dave
23 Sep 2014

peek you keeps displaying an image of me and an ex from an old deleted facebook of mine which makes my current spouse FURIOUS. the image in turn gets posted in google image search despite the original site being deleted. Im going to try the opt-out process but judging from the other commnts i doubt they will work. I will be looking up this Micheal Hussey and contacting the above individual wanting to class action sue him. I am also contacting the attorney general.


Posted by:

z
07 Feb 2015

peekyou is evil. Peek You is gathering and posting my personal information without my permission. Michael Hussey is a con artist and needs to be immediately arrested and prosecuted for 100 years in penitentiary for people's personal security damage and propagating identity theft.


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